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

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Youth-Inclusive Rural Finance (YIRF)

01.09.2025 - 31.08.2028

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.


Horn of Africa: IFC - Private sector solutions for regufees and host communities

01.01.2025 - 09.07.2031

The Horn of Africa is fraught by political and economic fragilities and conflicts, leading to protracted displacement situations. They involve confinement in camps with few opportunities to establish sustainable livelihoods. Switzerland contributes to durable solutions for displacement-affected communities by promoting private sector development, leading to greater economic and employment opportunities and socio-economic integration in the region, which is in the Swiss interest.


SKYE - Skills Development for Youth Employment

01.09.2021 - 28.02.2023

Over 43% of the potential working population in Nigeria is either unemployed or underemployed and Edo State’s employment rate recently dropped below the national average. Edo also constitutes an important source of irregular migration as well as the epicenter of human trafficking in the country. Through its contribution to the SKYE program, Switzerland aims to improve the range of active labor market measures by building capacities within the institutions delivering job-matching services and professional training.


SPARK - Regional Employment Programme in Jordan and Lebanon

01.09.2021 - 31.12.2023

In Lebanon and Jordan, the protracted refugee crisis, structural fragility, political and economic crises, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to increased poverty and unemployment, especially among youth and women. Switzerland’s contribution to the SPARK Regional Employment Programme will support both countries to retain and create quality employment opportunities, to prepare local and refugee populations for such opportunities and to facilitate their transition from education to work.


ILFF 4 Education - Impact Linked Financing for Education to accelerate inclusive quality education through private sector engagement

01.08.2021 - 31.12.2025

Many countries face challenges and a considerable funding gap to meet the SDG 4. Covid-19 has aggravated this situation. Impact linked finance is an innovative way to leverage private-sector engagement in the education sector for the inclusion and quality learning of vulnerable groups. In collaboration with foundations, the project will pilot impact linked financing in education in SDC priority regions in order to accelerate learning, inclusiveness and quality of basic education.


Enhanced Skills for Sustainable and Rewarding Employment (ENSSURE) Phase II

16.07.2021 - 15.07.2025

For Nepalese women and men to gain and retain social and economic benefits from lifelong learning, the establishment of a well-functioning federalised Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system is crucial. In light of its long-standing expertise in TVET and federalism, Switzerland is well placed to support the implementation of a federalised TVET system that responds to the needs of enterprises and increases the prospect of gainful employment for all, especially youths. 


Skills for Local Economic Development SLED

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2030

Switzerland will explore opportunities for supporting local economic development through vocational skills development in predominantly rural areas in Southern Shan. A focus on market-oriented skills opportunities accessible to young women and men, especially from vulnerable groups will be identified that open life-long learning opportunities to improve livelihood options and support peace building and security in conflict-affected areas.


Program Contribution to the Alliance Terre des Hommes Schweiz-Suisse 2021-2022

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2022

Terre des hommes schweiz and Terre des Hommes Suisse have formed an alliance to pool their expertise to address the root causes of exclusion and vulnerability of children and young people. tdh schweiz is competent in participatory approaches for young people and focuses on promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, a culture of peace and sustainable livelihoods. TdH Suisse has a strong expertise in the integrated promotion of the right to participation, protection against exploitation and violence, and education, including education for sustainable development. 


Eritrea Vocational Skills Training

01.09.2020 - 30.09.2023

Building upon a successful pilot phase (2017-2019), Switzerland will continue to contribute to two well established NGO-ted initiatives on technical and vocational education and training in Eritrea. The initiatives aim at improving the quality of teaching in targeted vocational skills institutions and testing the possibility of engaging in entrepreneurial activities. Ultimately the goal is to contribute to giving better life perspectives and job-opportunities to young Eritreans in their home country.


Decent work, protection and well-being for migrant workers and their families in Sri Lanka

01.09.2020 - 31.08.2024

The programme aims to maximise the benefits of migration for sustainable development in Sri Lanka. It will support government institutions and other actors in implementing policies related to fair and ethical recruitment, skills development and provide reintegration support for returning migrants in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. A special focus is placed on elevating migrant workers’ voices in advocacy. The intervention creates entry points to engage with the newly elected government in Sri Lanka. 


Nepal Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS) Phase Il

16.07.2020 - 15.07.2024

Based on Swiss expertise in Technical and Vocational Education and Training, the project

contributes to establish a federal vocational qualifications system. The NVQS will increase the

transparency on the labour market for employers and workers, improve official recognition of

workers competencies in hospitality, construction and automobile sectors and allow links between

TVET and general education to access higher level qualifications for better employment in

domestic and international labour market.


Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE)

01.03.2020 - 31.05.2024

Inspired by aspects of the Swiss Vocational Skills Development model, the Opportunities for Youth Employment project aims to improve the livelihoods of young rural and peri-urban out-of-school women and men. In addition to building youths' skills-set and connecting them with existing markets for gainful selfemployment in agriculture and renewable energy, this project will also contribute to a more youth friendly and effective market system and policy environment Co-funding is provided by the private sector.

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