As the leading national association for SMEs and large companies in Switzerland’s mechanical and electrical engineering industries (MEM industries), Swissmem has designed a mobility programme for apprentices in the sector and applied for funding from Movetia.

The project has been running since May 2018 and the first apprentices have already completed a 2-3 week stay abroad involving a language course and vocational traineeship. Swissmem’s aim is to enable apprentices working at SMEs that do not have the resources to organise such projects to undertake a mobility experience. Swissmem is responsible for the centralised, cross-industry organisation that facilitates the participation of training companies and apprentices and guarantees quality.

A great many companies in the MEM industries generate the majority of their revenues in European and global markets and therefore have to have a successful presence abroad. Not only large companies, but also many SMEs, export their products to other countries or even produce them abroad. This requires close international collaboration. Employees from all divisions come into contact with people from other countries when giving sales pitches, or during delivery, commissioning and maintenance. Besides technical expertise, this also requires language skills and cultural competence:  empathy, respect and an understanding of people from other backgrounds are essential.   

This is why apprentices should get the opportunity to gain initial experience abroad or in other parts of Switzerland during their apprenticeships. By evaluating and quality checking suitable language courses and traineeships, Swissmem can provide assurance to training companies that apprentices who take part in the MovMEM mobility project will receive solid training and will be properly supervised.

With the support from Movetia, it made sense for Swissmem to get involved in this area for the benefit of apprentices and vocational training in the sector. The professional association hopes to preserve the appeal of occupations in the MEM industries and optimally prepare young professionals for the future in a highly globalised world.