The corona crisis must not be allowed to weaken the Swiss VPET system. The three VPET partners – namely the Confederation, the cantons and professional organisations - have joined forces to ensure that this does not happen. In March, under the guidance of the ‘VPET 2030’ steering committee, VPET partners established a project framework and corresponding working groups. Within a short space of time, they managed to clarify, for example, how final apprenticeship examinations could be organised this year, and how cantonal vocational baccalaureate examinations could be conducted under these special conditions. The VPET partnership is also fully involved in the ‘2020 Apprenticeship Outlook Task Force’, set up by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin.
VPET partners join forces
Around 75,000 young people will complete their VET programmes this summer. Under the guidance of the ‘VPET 2030’ steering committee – SERI, the Swiss Conference of VET Offices (SBBK), the Swiss Employers Association (SAV), the Swiss Union of Crafts and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SGV), the Swiss Trade Union Federation (SGB) and Travail.Suisse – a working group prepared a proposal to enable qualification procedures to be organised this year. This working group also produced the corresponding documents and planned the various processes. As a result, the Federal Council was able to put the corresponding ordinance into effect on 16 April. As in previous years, learners will therefore be able to complete their VET programmes and obtain their Federal VET Diploma or Federal VET Certificate, despite the coronavirus.
A solution was also found for the federal vocational baccalaureate: following consultation with VPET partners and the Swiss Conference of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions (swissuniversities), the Federal Council decided on 29 April that this year, the FVB can be obtained entirely on the basis of performance grades.
Positive interim balance
In the meantime, and within a very short space of time, all the sponsors have made a remarkable effort to classify their VET programmes into three possible variants that can be used for the workplace training portion of the final apprenticeship examination. These three variants were assessed by the Qualification Procedures Committee of the Swiss Conference of VET Offices and submitted to SERI for approval. The result confirms the high level of importance given to workplace training in Swiss dual-track VET programmes:
- In 75 VET programmes, individual practical projects (IPPs) or pre-assigned examination projects (PEPs) will be carried out at the host company (variant 1).
- In 110 VET programmes, pre-assigned examination projects (PEPs) will be carried out centrally (variant 2).
- In 9 VET programmes, variants 1 and 2 will be implemented as provided for in the corresponding VET ordinances.
- In 39 VET programmes, workplace training will be assessed by the host companies (variant 3). These include a large number of VET programmes in health care, social care, commerce and retail.
- In 11 VET programmes, no qualification procedures will be organised in 2020. This latter case mainly refers to VET programmes for which there are currently no apprenticeships, for which training takes place abroad, or for which no learners have registered for final apprenticeship examinations this year.
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin sets up task force
The specific impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the apprenticeship situation and the market for new entrants to the occupation will depend on how the pandemic unfolds and cannot yet be clearly predicted. Nevertheless, interested young people should be able to find an apprenticeship position even under the current difficult conditions. Host companies should also be able to fill their apprenticeship vacancies. In order to be able to efficiently counteract the possible effects of the corona pandemic, a coordinated approach by all VPET partners is necessary.
At the beginning of May, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin therefore instructed SERI to set up a ‘2020 Apprenticeship Outlook Task Force’. This task force is based on existing structures and is comprised of representatives of VPET partners. The task force will ensure an agile and efficient response to the changing situation so that the cantons, host companies and young people will receive the best possible support and local stakeholders will find themselves in a more stable position. The different circumstances in the cantons will thus be taken into account.
Implementation according to plan
The cantons were given until 27 April to challenge SERI's classification decisions on epidemiological grounds. All things considered, the final apprenticeship examination variant chosen by the sponsors was adopted in over 90% of the 240 or so VET programmes classified. Also, SERI has largely accepted objections from certain cantons that drew attention to local conditions. Based on the Federal Council ordinance, assessment of workplace training in these cantons will automatically be carried out by the host companies (variant 3).
After clarifying how the qualification procedures will be carried out for VET programmes this year, the cantonal VET offices have now moved to the implementation phase. The learners and host companies concerned will be informed by their cantonal VET office directly.