The Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation in 2021-2024 reveals which political developments are important to Switzerland at present and in the future. The extent to which digitalisation is affecting private providers of continuing education and training (CET) is also increasingly important. The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated digitalisation in the continuing education and training sector. This requires investments in technological equipment and further training of the trainers. After a shift to online training as a result of the lockdown, providers are now increasingly integrating digitally-supported courses and programmes in their portfolio.
Continuing education and training is seen as a key instrument to prepare people for the challenges of digitalisation. Continuing education and training programmes in the field of basic digital competences, that help the labour force keep pace with technological change, are given direct support from the Confederation or the cantons.
In addition, the Confederation and the cantons together seek to strengthen the basic competences of adults, particularly in the areas of reading, writing, oral expression in the local official language, and basic mathematics. The Federal Act on Continuing Professional Development provides for financial assistance from the Confederation to the cantons for this purpose. 21 cantons have signed a corresponding programme agreement with the Confederation for the 2021–2024 education, research and innovation promotion period. An important project in terms of promotion is the “Einfach besser” (Simply better) campaign. The aim of this national campaign is to motivate adults who have difficulties with basic competences to attend courses in reading, writing, arithmetic or computer use. It also seeks to raise public awareness. Private companies can submit an application to the Confederation or the respective canton for financial support for short training courses in basic skills for their employees. The training takes place within the company and is supported by a flat rate per lesson and participant.
Another challenge that Switzerland will continue to face in the future is the disparity in participation in continuing education and training programmes. The participation rates for people without a post-compulsory qualification are low compared to other groups. Thus, in Switzerland, there is a gap between poorly qualified and better qualified people as regards continuing education and training. Lack of basic skills can be one reason for this. That is why the Confederation and the cantons are investing in this area. The Confederation, cantons and professional organisations have also launched several projects as part of the Vocational and Professional Education and Training 2030” initiative. One of these projects (viamia: free career assessment for people aged 40 and over), for instance, provides for the facilitation of regular career assessments for people over 40, free of charge. The aim is to identify upcoming professional changes and any need for continuing education and training at an early stage.