October 15

International CTE-Swiss Manufacturing Apprenticeship Career Path Program for Secondary Students

Last month Executive Director, Neil Reddy, of MSSC attended an International CTE Conference in Switzerland.  His write-up below provides an international aspect on career pathways for secondary students:

The manufacturing apprenticeship program located at the Mechatronics School of Winterthur (MSW) and Apprenticeship Secondary Students at Burkhardt Compression, Inc. in Switzerland is four years long.  Students decide at age 15 what career path they would like to go into and have ample opportunities to experience them prior to making a decision.

The apprenticeship programs are a combination of “Theory” learned in class with an instructor and a  combination of learning materials including, computer-based/virtual, textbooks, class labs, videos, etc.  Then there is “Practice” which refers to actual “hands-on” training at a workplace. Manufacturing students commence their apprenticeships at age 16 (10th grade) and they are spent partly in a trade school like MSW and at a manufacturing plant like Burkhardt Compression.

Benefits for the community & students in this apprenticeship program include:

  • $4-6,000 per/month job offers to students right out of high school
  • Option of either working with their apprenticeship employer or seeking employment elsewhere
  • Two-thirds of all Swiss secondary students enter an apprenticeship program for 230+ occupations
  • Students sign a contract with their apprentice employer and are paid while going through their apprenticeship
  • Students can earn their high school diploma while going through the apprenticeship program
  • Taught the “humanities” art, history, languages, philosophy, ethics, social studies, etc.
  • Behavioral and workplace soft skill lessons: teamwork, communications, attendance, attention to detail, etc.
  • Pay increases depending on their years of apprenticeship/experience and knowledge
  • 92% of students gain employment with the remaining 8% going on to college or trying a different apprenticeship
  • 100,000 Swiss employers participate directly and are a “part” of the Swiss education system
  • Employers commit to hiring “x” number of their apprentice students and have a dedicated proven pipeline of workers
  • Community receives highly paid citizens able to start families, pay taxes, and purchase goods
  • Region keeps employers by providing them with a qualified workforce and can attract new employer investment because they have a pipeline of skilled workers

Does your high school, community college, or employer provide apprenticeship opportunities? Tell us about it, leave a comment below!

-Catherine Feeney, Community Outreach Manager, MSSC

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