Swiss excel at WorldSkills apprenticeship ‘Olympics’

Juliana Thöny won gold in the patisserie and confectionary category in the WorldSkills competition that was held in October in Lucerne © Manu Friederich

Swiss apprentices have won 19 medals, including five golds, at the international WorldSkills competition, which wrapped up in Austria on Sunday evening. This put the country in third place in the medal table.

This content was published on November 27, 2022 minutes

"Over 55 per cent of our team made it onto the podium. Only the delegations from China and South Korea had a better medal rate," Martin Erlacher, head of the SwissSkills delegation, told SWI in a statement.

Overall the team had competed at a “very high level”, he added.

Switzerland came out as the top European nation, beating neighbouring France, which had a good competition with 16 medals, and which will also host the next WorldSkills in 2024.

The Swiss team was able to add to its medal haulExternal link on Sunday, with a gold (in bricklaying) and three bronze in technical professions being won in the last events in Salzburg.

Ben Zaugg won gold in bricklaying in one of the last competitions in Salzburg WorldSkills

WorldSkills special edition

During September-November the contest was held in 15 countries around the world, after the original event in China was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. Switzerland hosted 13 of the 62 competitions, more than any other country.

At the last WorldSkills international competition, held pre-pandemic in 2019 in Kazan, Russia, the Swiss team won 16 medals, also coming in third after China and South Korea. Russia withdrew from this year’s competition.

Switzerland fielded 37 young professionals at this year’s event, all under the age of 22, in 34 competitions (some are entered as a team of two). All had trained very hard, SwissSkills said.

More than 1,000 young people from 58 countries took part in WorldSkills 2022. There were 62 skill competitions, ranging from traditional trades like carpentry to cloud computing.

Showcase for Switzerland

WorldSkills and its sister EuroSkills events are important events for the Swiss, as they are seen as a good showcase for the country’s vocational skills.

Switzerland’s apprenticeship system is often held up as the “gold standard” in vocational training internationally. It combines learning on the job, and being paid a learning wage, with one to two days of theory at a vocational school.

Around two thirds of 15-16 year olds opt for an apprenticeship after leaving compulsory school. The alternative is an academic high school, which prepares for university.

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