Vocational skills development – the gateway to the world of work

Quality vocational skills development that enables trainees to gain a foothold in the labour market and to find and keep jobs with decent working conditions can contribute to poverty reduction. The goal is economic development that benefits all. The SDC works with the public authorities and the private sector to develop training programmes tailored to the needs of the market.

Focus of the SDC's activities

The SDC supports a vocational skills development approach that can provide trainees with the skills they need to take part in the labour market and which gives them access to reasonably paid work. The idea is to enable them to acquire the professional skills to take part in the formal or informal labour market either as employees or self-employed workers.

The SDC wants to ensure that young trainees, once trained, can go on to find employment and contribute to productivity growth. The aim is to increase training opportunities and to ensure that all sections of the population – the poor and not so poor, women and men, and urban and rural residents – can benefit from them.

In order to ensure that training programmes are optimally tailored to the needs of trainees and the economy, the SDC makes every effort to involve both the public authorities and the private sector in the planning and implementation stages. The most promising training programmes comprise theoretical and practical instruction – like Switzerland’s dual vocational education and training system.

The SDC is working to improve vocational skills development opportunities, but also encourages the recognition of informal work experience and learning, including self-taught skills, which many professionals can bring to the table.

Depending on the circumstances and contexts, the SDC recommends including introductory modules for certain trades in compulsory school curricula. Career counselling services have proved useful in secondary schools. Ideally, vocational skills development should provide a bridge between basic education and the world of work. With this in mind, the SDC complements vocational skills development programmes with activities to strengthen the private sector and create jobs.

Background

In 2017, some 71 million young people of working age are unemployed. Nearly twice this number are living in poverty, often because they lack education and training and cannot find a decent job. Only 11% of young people in secondary education around the world are enrolled in vocational programmes.

There is a clear need to increase training opportunities to enable young people to prove their potential on the labour market. Vocational skills development, like basic education, is a fundamental condition for economic and social development. It is critically important for vocational skills development to build on high-quality basic education and, if necessary, to close existing knowledge gaps.

Quality vocational skills development only makes sense, however, if those who graduate from vocational skills development programmes find employment opportunities. According to the World Bank, 40 million new jobs are expected to be created annually to absorb the growing number of young people entering the labour market, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Providing a skilled workforce can boost business productivity and competitiveness, which has a positive effect on economic growth and job creation. Offering prospects to the vulnerable and meeting the aspirations of young people is essential to avoid wasting human and economic potential.

Testimonials from beneficiaries

People who have benefited from vocational training talk about their experiences.

Gender and skills development

The SDC integrates respect for gender equality in its projects and ensures that women have access to the job market.

Current Projects

Object 1 – 12 of 105

Improving farm productivity in Georgia through dual vocational education and training

Three people in a greenhouse.

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022

Agriculture is Georgia's most important sector. However, farming remains uncompetitive as farmers' skills are out of step with the job market and technological developments. Switzerland is continuing to support vocational education and training to improve productivity, farm income and the employment situation for students of agriculture.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Vocational training
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Agricultural services & market
Rural development

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022


CHF 6'352'000



Revitalising labour market in Moldova

Two young women checking cables.

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2021

With Moldova facing high unemployment and a slowdown in growth, the SDC is funding a project designed to offer young job seekers alternatives to emigration and to improve the country's economic situation. Switzerland is supporting reforms aimed at training a qualified workforce and improving the investment climate. This will not only promote demand-driven training but also help create new jobs in the private sector.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Moldova
Vocational training
Vocational training

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 5'350'000



An attractive labour market for young Kosovars

A young man working on an electrical system.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

The project « Enhancing Youth Employment » is aimed at improving job opportunities for young people in Kosovo, a population segment particularly impacted by unemployment. By connecting employers and job seekers, and by training young people in the skills in demand on the labour market, the project is helping to reduce unemployment and drive economic growth.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
Vocational training

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 7'570'000



Better training to facilitate the integration of youngsters in rural areas into the labour market

Three young Nigerien men walking through a plantation.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

The SDC is committed to improving the education and vocational training system in Niger. Over 1.5 million young people living in rural areas currently have no access to education or vocational training. Their future ability to enter the labour market depends on good-quality basic education and vocational training tailored to their needs.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Niger

Dosso and Maradi

Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Education
Vocational training
Employment creation
Primary education

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 14'500'000



Lebanon: education and care in a neighbourhood shared by Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Inside a classroom where a woman teacher is sitting in front of a group of children showing them a book.

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2019

The inhabitants of Hay el Gharbé in southern Beirut live in a very precarious situation. Since 2012, a number of Syrian refugees have joined their neighbourhood. The SDC supports the Lebanese NGO Tahaddi, which has made a real difference in people’s lives here – such as with its education centre, helping a large number of children to (re)discover schooling and escape their daily hardships. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
Education
Health
Primary education
Primary health care
Medical services

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2019


CHF 774'000



Project completed

Kakuma: Developing vocational skills in a refugee camp

a man repairing a computer in his workshop, watched by six visitors.

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2019

The SDC’s Skills for Life pilot project teaches vocational skills to refugees and residents of Kakuma, to enable them to work and earn a living. More than 580 young people were trained in phase one of this project, which was launched in 2013. Phase two began in summer 2016.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kenya
Migration
Vocational training
Education
Human rights
Forced displacement (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)
Vocational training
Basic life skills
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2019


CHF 2'050'000



Prospects for young, unemployed adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina

01.04.2016 - 31.03.2020

The aim of the Youth Employment Project (YEP) is to help public employment bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve their offer and to introduce youth-friendly services, such as individual and group careers advice for unemployed young adults between 18 and 30 years. Together with local partners, YEP also promotes new job opportunities linked to social entrepreneurship models.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
Business support & economic inclusion
Vocational training

01.04.2016 - 31.03.2020


CHF 4'800'000



Project completed

IFAD: International Fund for Agricultural Development – Core Contribution

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2018

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialised agency of the United Nations mandated to enable poor rural women and men to improve their food security and nutrition, raise their incomes and strengthen their resilience. Its mandate therefore dovetails with the priorities of Switzerland's development policy.

Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Climate change and environment
Agricultural development
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
Environmental policy

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2018


CHF 45'087'000



Vocational skills development in Tunisia – destination employment

In Tunisia, an SDC programme enables young job seekers to acquire the technical and social skills required in the workplace

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2020


An SDC programme boosts the employability of young Tunisians entering the job market. It provides them with training in vocational skills to equip them with the practical experience and know-how required in the workplace.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Tunisia
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2020


CHF 9'603'475



From Education to Employment (E2E)

A young woman at a computer regulating machines.

01.04.2015 - 31.12.2019

Serbia, which is currently negotiating accession to the European Union (EU), must undergo reforms to meet the criteria that apply to EU member states. Unemployment among young people is currently 27,5% and is a major concern for the Serbian government. Serbia wants to base the reform of its vocational training system on the success factors of the Swiss system of dual education and training and has invited Switzerland to assist it in this crucially important reform process.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Serbia
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation

01.04.2015 - 31.12.2019


CHF 8'010'000



Bangladesh: courses to raise job prospects for the poor in the textiles and building sectors

Three sewing machine operators in a textile factory receiving on-the-job training from three other people.

01.04.2015 - 31.03.2021

The textiles and construction sectors in Bangladesh are recording high rates of growth, but many poor women and men lack the necessary qualifications for skilled jobs. By 2019, a project jointly financed by Switzerland and the United Kingdom aims to give 110,000 of them better prospects through on-the-job training. The results so far are promising.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bangladesh
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
Vocational training
Tradepolicy & market system

01.04.2015 - 31.03.2021


CHF 5'825'000



Project completed

Orienting vocational skills towards the job market

Four students and a teacher cooking.

01.03.2015 - 30.04.2019

Albania’s economic and employment growth is hampered by a shortage in quality techni­cal skills. In response to this, the government of Albania wants to improve vocational edu­cation and training (VET) and align it towards labour market needs. The Skills for Jobs project supports this reorientation.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Albania
Employment & economic development
Employment creation
SME development

01.03.2015 - 30.04.2019


CHF 7'800'000


Object 1 – 12 of 105