Vocational Education and Training: Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann welcomes U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

Bern, 01.09.2015 - Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), welcomed U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today in Bern, where they visited a host company. The visit provided Secretary Perez with an opportunity to get a firsthand look at the advantages and importance of Switzerland’s dual-track system of vocational education and training. Afterward they signed a declaration of intent on intensifying cooperation in vocational education and training.

For a number of years now, Switzerland has conducted a dialogue with the United States on vocational education and training (VET), called apprenticeships. VET is a core element of the Swiss educational system and a key reason why young people in Switzerland receive an excellent education and training, providing them with strong career prospects. Furthermore, it ensures that businesses have access to well-qualified workers. There is also increasing international interest in the Swiss model.

That is the reason why Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez initiated more in-depth cooperation in the fall of 2014, culminating in the signing of a declaration of intent in Bern on September 1, 2015. The declaration was also signed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who was involved in the cooperation agreement in Washington in July during Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann's visit to the United States. A work program containing specific measures is currently being drafted.

Before they signed the agreement, Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and Secretary Perez visited CSL Behring, a worldwide leader in manufacturing blood plasma products. At its site in Bern, the company trains a total of forty apprentices in nine different occupations. During the visit, which was illustrative of the 60,000 host companies in Switzerland, Secretary Perez gained an insight into the important role host companies play in the Swiss model. Industry's voluntary commitment to the country's dual-track system of apprenticeships is essential to the Swiss model's success.

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