SME policy: professional training

Pair of apprentices making a wooden object, watched by their instructor

Swiss SMEs need a qualified labour force. The Confederation works to strongly promote apprenticeships and continuing professional development.

The prosperity of the Swiss economy highly depends on the quality of its labour force. In order to provide for its renewal, the Confederation is committed to high-level professional training and a sufficient offer of apprenticeship positions. Thus, it encourages companies, particularly SMEs, to train apprentices and to actively participate in the professional development of employees.

SMEs that are involved in promoting professional training benefit from it in more than one way:

  • Economic advantages. A study by the University of Bern shows that two-thirds of apprenticeships create a net benefit even during the training. For the remaining one-third, there is a rapid return on investment if the company continues to employ the people who have been trained. Continuing professional development also brings benefits: new skills acquired by employees are immediately applicable within the company.
  • Prestige with the public. The enterprise awakens interest sympathy and recognition vis-à-vis the public. It enables young apprentices to begin to enjoy professional life by giving them opportunities to develop.
  • Youth and Dynamism. People in training know the most recent trends, raise questions about old habits and bring fresh ideas to the company.
  • Investment in the future. People who are well-trained today are the people who will make the best professionals and managers tomorrow. The company transmits its culture and know-how to a new generation.

The dual professional training system, a Swiss specialty, plays a major role in social stability and the economic prosperity of the country, contributing particularly to maintaining a low unemployment rate. It is crucial that SMEs, which represent the huge majority of companies in Switzerland, participate in continuing this long and valuable tradition. 

The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation

The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SEFRI) guarantees a varied and continuously updated offering in the area of initial training and continuing education. It works with cantons, professional associations and union partners in order to provide a sufficient number of apprenticeship positions, as well as initial professional training consistent with its time.

In addition, the SEFRI supports professional development and provides an attractive offering, ranging from professional schools to specialized higher education institutions, and includes federal diplomas. Innovation is particularly encouraged, in view of new professions or original training methods. In parallel, the SEFRI also ensures that its trainings are coherent with those offered abroad. 

SEFRI initiatives

In order to promote the creation of a qualified labour force, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation has launched various initiatives.


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Last modification 27.09.2019

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