Normally commercial apprenticeship positions in Switzerland are snapped up nearly one year in advance. However this year many will be left vacant according to Zurich newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.
Commercial apprenticeships cover tasks such as accounting, administration and secretarial activities. Training takes around three years and results in a federal certificate. Graduates work for banks, insurers, biotech companies, government agencies and other organisations and companies.
Government statisticians in April forecast around 1,500 commercial apprenticeship vacancies.
One driver seems to be a shortage of qualified applicants. Remo Marantelli, an apprentice recruiting agent, told the NZZ: “Even big companies are struggling to fill empty posts.” According to him, two thirds of young people give up because they don’t meet the qualification requirements.
In addition, in a scramble for young recruits, employers are taking the most promising candidates before they even get their final grades.
Barbara Wieler, from Bank Migros, said that they are seeing a decline in the quality of candidates. Fewer and fewer school leavers have excellent grades.
Another trend which might help to explain high commercial apprenticeship vacancy rates is the rise in the number of pupils choosing to continue their education when their grades allow. This means they can delay making a career choice, something observed by the canton of Zurich’s placement service.
Across all types of apprenticeships an estimated 10,000 places were unfilled in 2016 in Switzerland. The worst affected fields were bakers and wood workers, which only filled seven out of ten openings.
The technical sector is also currently struggling to find young recruits.
On the other hand apprenticeships in architecture and construction, crafts, health and social services, IT, agriculture, and manufacturing have more applicants than vacancies.
Over the coming years, many elements of administrative work are likely to be automated. A report by the consulting firm McKinsey expects tasks like data entry and data processing to largely disappear. For example data processing makes up 34% of activity in finance and insurance. The report predicts 69% of this will eventually be automated. Human tasks likely to survive in finance and insurance are: managing others, applying expertise, and stakeholder interactions. How might this affect commercial apprentices?