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.


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 109 – 119 of 119

Project completed

Vocational Education and Training (VET) Project


01.01.2011 - 31.12.2015

The overall goal of this project is to enable rural youth to participate in quality Vocational Education and Training (VET) in order to become more employable and to help them overcome or avoid the poverty trap. The major strategic elements of the project include: a) A focus on young people in rural areas, both male and female; b) Alignment with Mongolian Government policy priorities and support for a high level of national ownership and active political will in relation to the issue; c) A focus on the western region of Mongolia, where there are no other donor activities or mining investments; d) Promotion of a focused intervention (VET) that has a strong and positive correlation with people’s employability and the country’s economic and social development; and e) Benefiting from an important Swiss comparative advantage.

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
Basic life skills
Primary education

15.10.2010 - 31.12.2014

CHF  4’850’000

Project completed
Project completed
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
Employment & economic development
Employment creation

01.08.2010 - 31.12.2016

CHF  8’045’000

Project completed

Partnership fund in the Czech Republic

A large group of cyclists in a city

01.06.2009 - 14.06.2017

The Partnership Fund encourages development of mutual cooperation and partnerships between the Czech and Swiss bodies. The Fund supports smaller projects between 10'000 and 250'000 CHF and contributes through the exchange of know how and best practices to tackle development challenges in the Czech Republic.

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
Human rights
Vocational training
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Primary education
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Vocational training

01.01.2009 - 30.04.2009

CHF  200’000

Urban Water Security Project

01.01.2018 - 30.06.2022

The project seeks to increase climate resilience of urban water supply and to improve wastewater management with a special emphasis on skills development. It will focus on improving cooperation and establishing partnerships locally, regionally as well as between Peru and Switzerland/Germany. The project is implemented by the German GIZ.

Skills for Competitiveness

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

S4C aims at strengthening the vocational education and training (VET) system in Indonesia, by linking selected Polytechnics with the private sector, thus tackling the lack of skilled workers (skills gap) in selected sectors of the indonesian economy.

Program for Sustainable Tourism Development

01.11.2017 - 31.12.2022

Indonesia has the potential to develop a world-class tourism industry, because the country has many natural and cultural tourism assets. The World Economic Forum?s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 ranks Indonesia 42nd (out of 141 countries). Despite this potential, Indonesia faces serious sustainability challenges.

Global program on Textil & Clothing - GTEX

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

GTEX addresses challenges faced by the Textile & Clothing (T&C) sector, in particular for companies to meet international market requirements. It will enhance capacities at company level, promote a conducive policy environment and strengthen trade support institutions such as business entities, consultancy firms or training centres.

Object 109 – 119 of 119