The Swiss apprenticeship system is virtually unique the world over and enables the country to maintain the industrial expertise that has seen the term "Swiss Made" become a byword for quality abroad. The system involves significant practical experience with a company and theory lessons in a professional school, and is highly regarded throughout the country. Two-thirds of young people opt for this path and choose one of 250 possible trades, taught in over 58,000 companies which are part of the scheme.
Education & Research
“Swissness” therefore has plenty of good years still ahead of it. The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne has designated the Swiss educational system as the one that best corresponds to the needs of the economy.
The reputation for the high standard of Swiss products has seen "Swiss Made" become a quality that businesses can rely on to develop their activities and high added-value products. Plenty of foreign companies (in particular certain emerging countries such as Russia and Turkey for example) choose Switzerland and the canton of Vaud to develop new ranges of products with high added value. This is the case in industry and medical technologies in particular, and also in the cosmetics sector.
- For processed natural products (food etc.), at least 80% of the weight of the constituent primary materials has to come from Switzerland.
- For industrial products, at least 60% of the cost price of the product needs to come from Switzerland; costs related to research and development can be taken into account in the calculation.
- For all products: the activity which gives the product its essential characteristics should take place in Switzerland (e.g. the transformation of milk into cheese).
Regarding services, a company can offer "Swiss" services provided that their headquarters are in Switzerland and that the company is genuinely administered there.
Small and medium-sized industries such as Symbios (prosthetics), Elite (bedding), and Sylvac (measuring instruments) are three examples of small and medium-sized businesses with goods that characterize this Swiss quality and products with high added value destined for niche rather than mass markets.
With a watch manufacturing tradition that stretches back over more than a century, the canton of Vaud has leading industrial expertise in precision work and miniaturization. While prestigious watch brands such as Audemars Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre are shining examples of the excellence of Vaud’s industry all around the world, the microtechnology skills of the canton are now being used throughout the entire spectrum of precision technologies, including micro-mechanics, micro-electronics, and micro-systems.
Since establishing itself in Aigle in 2008, APCO Technologies has enjoyed significant growth in the space, energy and heavy industry sectors. The family-run business has gone from strength to strength, and now works with the Swiss Space Center and on the European Ariane 6 rocket.
A biopharmaceutical company which develops and markets solutions in the sectors of reproductive and maternal health, urology, gastroenterology, and endocrinology. It was originally founded in Sweden and set up business in the Vaud municipality of Saint-Prex in 2006.
MindMaze is a spin-off from the EPFL which has revolutionized neurological treatment. The start-up’s neurological retraining system is behind its rise to prominence in the unicorn category, i.e., new companies worth over a billion dollars.
• Medical technologies
• Aeronautics and aerospace
• Automotive industry
New industries based on this traditional expertise are emerging, such as the drone industry, which has been responsible for the creation of several hundred jobs in the canton of Vaud over the past three years.
The ETVJ technical school in the Joux Valley, where watch manufacture first began in Vaud, trains future designers and constructors, watch manufacturers, and micro-mechanics whose skills will go on to be of benefit to companies in the region and beyond. Several other technical schools around the canton also pass on to apprentices the industrial skills that have made the country’s reputation what it is today.