The intercantonal vocational college, the Polybau Educational Centre, has a monopoly in Switzerland when it comes to the training of building envelope specialists (Roofer EFZ, Weatherproofer EFZ, Façade Builder EFZ, Scaffolder EFZ, Blind Fitter EFZ). The educational institution is keen to establish a continuous partnership with various vocational schools in Germany and Austria.

An exchange of detailed technical information on educational plans, curricula, practical teaching content, contemporary teaching methods is not possible at cantonal and national level due to the uniqueness of the Educational Centre in Switzerland. This circumstance led to the launch of an ongoing exchange with the vocational colleges in Hallein (A), Waldkirchen (D), Pirmasens (D) and Gross-Gerau (D) in the fields of pitched roofs, façades, weatherproofing, scaffolding and sun protection, initially in the context of a 2018 European mobility project. Both apprentices and teaching staff benefit from the mutual exchange.

Mobility and collaboration

The objective of the mobility projects is to support motivated and interested apprentices beyond their normal everyday work. This involves group stays of several weeks in the host country, where the students attend the vocational college and work at a host company. The Polybau Educational Centre also receives visits from colleagues and apprentices from the German-speaking world. The aim is for participants to become acquainted with new or different teaching methods, course content and inter-company courses, to broaden their professional horizon and expand their intercultural, social and personal skills.
The exchange gives the participating schools a network that provides content and facilitates communication, which in turn leads to long-term collaboration. The main objective is to ensure the quality of the various educational processes. This has resulted in collaborations to create shared textbooks for German-speaking countries.

A look back and look ahead to informative days

The lessons learned and the impressions of the mutual visits in early 2020 were documented in report form: the German apprentices, for example, were presented with a new scaffolding system and quickly worked out how to implement it, so that the scaffolding was soon in place. The Swiss apprentices created a 3D plan of a couple roof construction on the computer (CAD), which they were then allowed to produce in the workshop. Drones were used too. The apprentices learn to control the drone on a simulator. In practice, the drone is used to search for damaged areas on roofs or to locate thermal bridges in buildings with a thermal imaging camera.

The participating educational institutions find the instructive and international exchange very valuable: reason enough for it to be continued in future.