I recently met with a group of national employers who are concerned about youth unemployment and want to help more young people to get apprenticeships. In discussing what more might be done, I drew on my recent visit to employers in Switzerland where there is one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the world. The country’s apprenticeship arrangements also consistently produce some of the highest skilled young employees in Europe.
Especially relevant was the collective realisation that youth unemployment was something so potentially dangerous to the Swiss economic and social stability that everyone had a part to play in protecting the country against it. When youth unemployment began to increase, employers agreed to take on extra apprentices. They saw this as an essential investment they needed to make in their future.
An apprenticeship is the most common way by which young people start their working lives in Switzerland. They know this is their preferred pathway from an early age and they and their families set out to research and find the best employment opportunity they can.