Swiss seek to boost US education cooperation

Around two thirds of Swiss young people opt for an apprenticeship © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Switzerland’s president Guy Parmelin is to visit the United States to cement cooperation on vocational education and training (VET). The move is part of a wider effort to intensify bilateral relations in the areas of business, education, research and innovation.

This content was published on November 13, 2021 minutes

The three-day trip to Washington starts on November 17, Parmelin’s economics ministry said.

Parmelin, whose mandate includes education, will meet US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Labour Marty Walsh, and the Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves on November 18 to sign a new memorandum of understanding (MoU), “thus expressing the will to continue and expand the countries' partnership in the VET area”, a statement saidExternal link on Friday.

It follows on from a previous MoU on VET from 2018 and will be valid for three years.

“Gold standard”

Switzerland’s famed apprenticeship system is often held up as the “gold standard” in vocational training and is the number one choice for young people after they leave school.

For some time now, the US has been looking at Switzerland’s system combining education with an apprenticeship at a host company.

When Parmelin met US President Joe Biden in Geneva in June, the two men also discussed education and training. Parmelin will however not meet Biden on this upcoming trip to Washington.

Science cooperation

The signing of a separate MoU between the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) will be another highlight, the statement continued.

The SNSF has already concluded similar agreements with various countries within and outside Europe. The US is Switzerland’s largest research partner, participating in around 15% of publications by researchers in Switzerland. Since 2016, the SNSF has funded more than 5,000 projects in Switzerland that involve some form of collaboration with the US.

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