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 25 – 36 of 103

Project completed

Improving the chance of finding employment thanks to better professional qualifications

A mechanical carpentry centre in Fada N'Gourma, Burkina Faso.

01.07.2012 - 31.08.2017

Although vocational training is the gateway to the world of work and plays a key role in efforts to reduce poverty, access remains difficult for much of the population in many countries. In Burkina Faso, the SDC supports a programme of vocational training in the areas of crafts, agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry. The approach is one of dual apprenticeship based on the Swiss model.

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

01.07.2012 - 31.08.2017


CHF 5'000'000



Project completed

Evaluating one's own competences and getting to know the world of employment in Romania

A young man demonstrates the hairdressing trade at a careers guidance event.

01.07.2012 - 30.06.2019

The project called "Job Orientation Training in Businesses and Schools (JOBS)" combines two systems: the school system with that of the job market. The programme prepares students in their final year at the classical upper secondary school and those in their first year at vo-tech middle schools to be better able to evaluate their own competences and become acquainted with the real working world. The objective is for the students to thus obtain information on the job opportunities open to them and increase their chances of embarking on the course of professional training that is best suited for them.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Romania
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions
VocationalTraining
Regional development and employment

01.07.2012 - 30.06.2019


CHF 2'116'280



Project completed

Improved living conditions for Roma in Slovakia

Two girls holding hands.

01.05.2012 - 30.06.2017

Integrating the Roma people into society presents a major challenge both to Slovakia and for the whole region. Currently, the Roma in Slovakia, who make up around 8.5% of the population in the eastern provinces of Kosice and Presov, are disadvantaged in comparison with the majority of the population. Typically, they live in badly constructed, dilapidated housing and rarely have access to education or healthcare services. The poor living conditions lead to long-term unemployment and high levels of poverty. An SDC project being conducted within the framework of the enlargement contribution is designed to improve their living standard.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Slovakia
Improving social security
Social services for specific target groups

01.05.2012 - 30.06.2017


CHF 1'410'000



Project completed

Broadening the range of occupations to boost the economy

A young man sawing a wooden board.

01.05.2012 - 31.01.2016

Since 2012, the SDC has been running a programme specifically designed for young Rwandans. By improving the quality of several vocational schools in Rwanda, the SDC aims to better equip young people to meet the needs of the country's economy, which must become more diversified if it is to grow. The SDC's efforts are also helping the most disadvantaged members of society to enter the job market.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
The Great Lakes Region

Rwanda, Western Province

Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Health
Vocational training
Employment creation
Health systems strengthening

01.05.2012 - 31.01.2016


CHF 9'740'000



Project completed

Reform of the Slovakian vocational education and training system

Three baker apprentices showing the bread they have made.

26.01.2012 - 31.03.2017

The goal of this project is the reform of Slovakia's vocational education and training system to better gear vocational education and training (VET) programmes toward the country's labour market. According to statistics, youth unemployment in Slovakia is around 30%.  Many sectors of the economy in Slovakia nevertheless complain that it is difficult to find well-qualified staff and wish to see more practice-oriented vocational education and training. This project therefore actively promotes cooperation between upper-secondary vocational schools, industry associations and employer organisations. Switzerland functions as a model and with its extensive experience of the dual vocational education system, is playing an important part in the ongoing reform.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Slovakia
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions
VocationalTraining
Regional development and employment

26.01.2012 - 31.03.2017


CHF 3'885'000



Project completed

Children excluded from the formal education system in Borgou

Benin

01.06.2011 - 30.06.2016

In Borgou, a rural department in northern Benin, more than half of school-age children do not have access to this basic right. Switzerland has joined forces with the government of Benin to give children excluded from formal schooling a high-quality basic education geared to their needs.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Benin
Education
Vocational training
Basic life skills
Primary education
Vocational training

01.06.2011 - 30.06.2016


CHF 6'610'000



Project completed

Water Management Skills Development in Uzbekistan

A teacher and three apprentices standing in front of an electrical panel

01.01.2011 - 28.02.2015

The project focuses on professional colleges in rural areas of Andijan, Namangan, Fergana and Tashkent provinces. Approximately 1500 pupils participated in the new educational programme, enabling them to meet the requirements of the labour market and learn about new technological standards. At a later stage and based on the results of the experience gained at the 11 colleges, the programme will be introduced at a further 200 colleges throughout the country.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Uzbekistan
Vocational training
Education
Agriculture & food security
Vocational training
Education policy
Agricultural water resources

01.01.2011 - 28.02.2015


CHF 3'860'000



A vocational education and training fund for disadvantaged people in Nepal

 Eine junge nepalesische Frau arbeitet an einem Sicherungskasten.

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020

The SDC established the Nepal Employment Fund together with the Government of Nepal and other partners to create training opportunities for young and disadvantaged people.  Training institutions fund the courses and the fund reimburses them if those receiving training find a job with a satisfactory income.  

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

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020


CHF 5'996'665



Project completed

Initiatives to enable 1200 children in Mali to return to school

School girls in Mali standing at their classroom window

15.10.2010 - 31.12.2014

Literacy classes, technical training, adapted teaching aids and material: the key mission of the SDC project to support the return to non-formal education is to provide 9- to 15-year-olds in Mali with access to primary education or vocational training.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mali
Education
Basic life skills
Primary education

15.10.2010 - 31.12.2014


CHF 4'850'000



Project completed

Enhancing Youth Employability (EYE) – 27,000 New Jobs for Young Men and Women in Kosovo

Agricultural school in Pristina, vocational Education Support Project 2011

01.08.2010 - 31.12.2016

In order to improve the market opportunities for young Kosovar women and men, the EYE program facilitates a matching of demand and supply sides of the labour market. Adequate training and education is available to meet the requirements of the private sector. The job seekers are enabled to access vacant positions and make informed decisions about their career paths. Furthermore, the EYE project promotes focused private sector investments in relevant subsectors that lead to growth of employment opportunities for young people. The approach taken by the project aims to bring about systemic change in matching demand and supply leading to large-scale and sustainable impact on the target group.

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

01.08.2010 - 31.12.2016


CHF 8'045'000



Project completed

Teaching and practical training for Roma children

Three girls watching a sketch at summer camp.

01.01.2009 - 30.04.2009

The economic upswing in Albania in recent years has led to a reduction in poverty. As before, the Roma and other minorities are however excluded from this prosperity. Some 70% of Roma live below the poverty line. Their per capita income is considerably lower than for the rest of the population.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Albania
Education
Human rights
Vocational training
Primary education
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Vocational training

01.01.2009 - 30.04.2009


CHF 200'000



Youth-Inclusive Rural Finance (YIRF)

15.09.2024 - 14.09.2028

Millions of Tanzanian young people living in rural areas, in particular young women, are affected by vulnerable employment. Building on successful Swiss experience in youth employment, this initiative aims at increasing gainful self-employment through enhanced financial inclusion. It will support the design, market entrance and upscaling of innovative digital financial products and services tailored to rural youth, including female youth. In order to ensure scale and sustainability, a partnership with the private sector will be developed.

Object 25 – 36 of 103