Swiss-U.S. Government Collaboration on Apprenticeships

Swiss President and Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Department of Labor in Washington, DC © U.S. Department of Labor

Exchanges among countries allow for valuable insights into keeping educational systems up-to-date and in line with new trends and developments. Recently, the United States has shown increasing interest in learning about the Swiss apprenticeship model. U.S. entrepreneurs and officials have become more familiar with the Swiss system and have identified the great potential for the labor market in the combination of on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Switzerland and the United States have been conducting an intensive dialogue on apprenticeships.

On November 18, 2021, Swiss President and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research Guy Parmelin, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that builds on the two countries’ previous collaboration on vocational education and training. The MoU recognizes the added value of the Swiss-style apprenticeship model in the United States and reinforces the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries.  It also emphasizes the need for inclusivity and to serve underserved communities while making clear that apprenticeships represent an opportunity open to all.

The signing ceremony occurred during the 7th annual U.S. National Apprenticeship Week in Washington, DC. The MoU’s main goal is to expand registered apprenticeship programs across a variety of sectors and occupations in the United States. For that purpose, it promotes the exchange of ideas and best practices and calls for direct contact, partnerships, and joint undertakings between companies, project execution agencies, and other vocational education and training stakeholders. After the memorandum was signed, the U.S. and Swiss officials as well as company representatives from both countries participated in a roundtable discussion on vocational education and training. The MoU will be in effect through December 2023.

Read the full Memorandum of Understanding (PDF, 3 Pages, 299.3 kB, English)

The cooperation between the two countries was first formalized in 2015 when former Swiss Federal Councilor Schneider-Ammann and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Pritzker signed a Joint Declaration of Intent on Vocational Education and Training in Washington, DC, on July 9, 2015. The signing ceremony in Washington, DC, was followed by a second ceremony in Bern on September 1, 2015, with former U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. The initial Joint Declaration of Intent provided a framework to explore cooperation possibilities between the two countries in the area of education and training systems and served as a foundation for the 2018 Memorandum.

Read the full Joint Declaration of Intent (PDF, 2 Pages, 19.0 kB)

In 2018, the cooperation was renewed when Switzerland and the United States signed a first MoU concerning cooperation on advancing apprenticeship, career and technical education, and vocational and professional education and training. Both countries emphasized their belief in the importance of promoting education and training as a factor in individual development and achievement, economic development, and social growth, as well as a means for strengthening the ties between the two countries. The signing ceremony at Northern Virginia Community College in Woodbridge, VA, took place on December 3, 2018, between former Swiss Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann and former U.S. Secretaries Ross, DeVos, and Acosta of the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Education, and Labor.

Read the full 2018 Memorandum of Understanding (PDF, 8 Pages, 569.2 kB)

MoU signing 2021
Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves and apprentices from Swiss companies in the U.S. at the signing ceremony in Washington, DC © U.S. Department of Labor