SWITZERLAND’S VIEW ON APPRENTICESHIPS & UNIVERSITY
- Universities in Switzerland are heavily subsidized. The tution fees would range between 1000 to 2000 USD per year. However, as Makiko Itoh writes correctly above, many people in Switzerland chose to do an apprenticeship rather than going to university. An apprenticeship consist of a 3 years professional education with 2-3 days per week of work and training on the job, and the remaining week by attending a professional school that provides job-specific but also general education (learning languages, math etc.). Interestingly many people favor professional over academic education as it is considered more safe to learn a “proper” profession first. After an apprenticeship one has still many options to advance his career. There are professional masters (e.g. master in bricklaying), but many also chose to attend a university after apprenticeship and therefore still go onto an academic career path. An apprenticeship is in no way a hinderance to advance your career in Switzerland, some of the country’s biggest firms have CEOs who started their career with an apprenticeship. Given that people usually start an apprenticeship by the age of 16 they still have enough time to chose among many options either professional or academic later on in life. However, a downside of doing an apprenticeship is that it is incompatible if you wish to do an international career and might not be recognized in other countries than Switzerland.
- Switzerland has a very anti-elitist attitude and culture that stems from its protestant history and that has manifested in politics, education and society as a whole. This explains why many people do an apprenticeship instead of an academic education, in fact you almost have to feel guilty for taking an academic path and not having done a “proper” professional education in Switzerland. In politics the people do have direct control over most changes of the law (see Makiko Itoh‘s answer above) and government spending by voting on specific drafts and proposals. So the politicians themselves are really not that important (as they mostly just execute the people’s will) and people expect even ministers and the president (which is just a one year tenure with only symbolic duties) to be very modest in their behavior and appearance. Correspondingly, the ministers do not need bodyguards, they can mostly use the train instead of riding in fancy limousines. In fact I just saw one former minister and president of Switzerland at Zurich’s main railway station a few days ago. Similarly, a lot of Swiss people do not show very overtly if they are wealthy or not. You cannot tell if someone is wealthy by the way he dresses or what car he was driving. It would even be considered a bit frivolous to show that you are wealthy. This is actually where the Swiss banking secret originally came from, though it is certainly used as a tax-evading opportunity in today’s times.