Report: it pays for companies to have apprentices

It doesn't cost as much to train a painter as it does an IT specialist Keystone / Steffen Schmidt

Firms in Switzerland may benefit annually by over CHF3,000 ($3,000) per apprentice when they train their own apprentices, a report has found.

This content was published on November 26, 2019 - 16:16
Fourth cost-benefit study/

The fourth cost-benefit studyExternal link conducted by the Observatory for Vocational Education and Training of the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (OBS SFIVETExternal link), published on TuesdayExternal link, revealed that most companies with apprenticeship programmes found it cheaper to train their own skilled workers than to hire them externally. 

Switzerland’s dual system of vocational training, that combines education with an apprenticeship at a host company, is often held up as a model for others.External link It’s the route taken by almost two-thirds of school leavers, aged 15-16, each year. 

The authorities are therefore keen to promote the importance of internal training. 

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The willingness of employers to offer apprenticeship training however very much depends on the costs and benefits associated with apprenticeships. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). which commissioned the reportExternal link, has estimated that only around 40% of companiesExternal link who could offer training actually do so and the challenges of offering training are greater for small companies (finding the right specialized trainer, for example). 

More than 5,700 companies with apprenticeship schemes and over 4,000 companies without apprenticeship schemes responded to the online survey on the cost-benefit of apprenticeships. Being surveyed were the three- and four-year Federal VET Diploma (EFZ) courses for the 2016/17 training year, and, for the first time, the newer two-year Federal VET Certificate (EBA) courses (for more practical professions which are generally taken by weaker studentsExternal link). 

Costs depend on apprenticeship 

The gross costs for an apprenticeship of all types was on average CHF28,070 per year. This included the apprentices’ salaries – which are generally low – as well as recruiting and human resources costs. Equipment and material were also budgeted in.  

The net benefit to companies of vocational training for youngsters averaged CHF31,240 per year. In all, two-thirds of companies reported a net benefit, the rest however spent more on training than they received back in benefit.  

A reason for this is that some professions cost more to train than others: painting and decorating was a “cheaper” apprenticeship than IT specialists or those working with high-tech or complex machinery, such as polymechanics techniciansExternal link. Both of these jobs require a lot of extra trainingExternal linkan article accompanying the studyExternal link said. But afterwards, these apprentices are often taken on, so it is still worth the companies’ while, it explained.

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