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A success story based on education

Monday 17.02.2014 Alfred Breu
Alfred Breu

Project Manager ICT VET Switzerland

Originally, financial sofware was only developed by the banks and insurers themselves, but now innumerable companies do so. In large part this is due to the Swiss dual education system.

In Switzerland, 3,000 young people start an IT apprenticeship or begin studying IT at a secondary school every year. (© ra2 studio/Fotolia)

When talking about software, people generally think about standardized products used in offices. It’s rarely remarked that many successful products were designed, developed and produced in Switzerland and have enjoyed widespread deployment and operation. IT evolved more or less unnoticed to become Switzerland’s sixth biggest sector which now employs 180,000 experts, of which two thirds are application developers. This success story was possible only due to Switzerland’s large number of highly qualified developers and prolific soft- ware architects.

An outstanding education system

The Swiss dual education system which trains the majority of junior IT professionals made a big contribution to that success. Every year, 3,000 young people start an IT apprenticeship or begin study- ing IT at a secondary school. They visit a vocational school two days per week to acquire the necessary IT capabilities required in their respective field. During their three working days, they apply that knowledge in their professional work as an apprentice. Over the course of this four-year education program, they reach a respectable level of expertise which they demonstrate in a two-week examination project by developing an application, for example. That our vocational education graduates reach a high competency level is confirmed by the international WorldSkills competition: In 2011, Fabian Vogler won the Gold Medal for Web Development in Calgary, followed in 2013 by Jonas Walter who received the Silver Medal for Software Solution Development in Leipzig. Network engineer Lukas Hubschmid came in fifth and was the European Champion. At 536 points, he would have needed only another 6 to win the Gold Medal.

Different kinds of higher education

Half of the young people training in IT also acquire their vocational school diploma. It entitles them to enroll without a further exam at a university of applied science, where they graduate with a BA after three years. With their vocational school diploma and after a further short foundation course, they can also enroll at university. This expansive education system permits young people to acquire further qualifications based on their personal talent, in either practical or theoretical realms. One popular option is higher vocational education. Alongside their job, people here prepare for the Swiss professional certificate examina-tion, and then study for their Swiss IT Manager Diploma.

more... this is available on this blog or in this ebook.