Preparing well with a pre-apprenticeship

The INVOL pre-apprenticeship integration programme specifically prepares refugees for basic vocational education and training. More than 2,400 people have participated in the pilot programme throughout Switzerland in the past three years. Two thirds of them were able to find an apprenticeship thanks to INVOL. Now people who are not part of the asylum system can also take part in the programme.

What does the INVOL year involve? Pfeil nach unten

The integration pre-apprenticeship INVOL lasts one year and is based on the dual system, like a standard apprenticeship. Participants generally work three days a week in a host company, where they gain practical experience, and for the rest of the time they attend vocational school, where they acquire an introduction to the occupational field and attend intensive language courses geared to the world of work and their chosen field.

The INVOL programme is run in partnership by the Confederation, cantons and interested professional organisations. The close cooperation with the private sector is essential for helping the participants to find an apprenticeship. Sector-specific syllabuses have been drawn up with 14 national professional organisations and these are developed on an ongoing basis.

Who is the programme for? Pfeil nach unten

The INVOL integration pre-apprenticeship is primarily targets teenage and young adult refugees. INVOL taps into the skills and (work) experience that the participants may have acquired in their countries of origin.

Since summer 2021 the programme has also been open to teenagers and young adults from outside the asylum system, in particular those from EU/EFTA countries and third countries who do not have any vocational qualifications or who have not completed upper secondary level education.

Do the participants manage to find an apprenticeship afterwards? Pfeil nach unten

In the first three years of the programme, almost two thirds of all participants were successful in finding an apprenticeship (two-, three- or four-year) after their INVOL year. These results are thanks to the hard work of the programme partners and the motivation shown by the participants. The requirements for being accepted on an apprenticeship programme are high, and the pandemic has made things even more challenging for both host companies and participants.

What happens with the pilot programme now? Pfeil nach unten

The pilot programme runs until summer 2024. As it has proven so successful, and on the basis of Motion 21.3964, which was adopted by Parliament in the 2021 winter session, SEM will draw up a concept for a more permanent programme beyond the pilot phase in summer 2024. This is due to be published in the autumn of 2022. Work on the concept has already begun.

A successful experiment

Foto Aiperi Nagy SEM

“I came to Switzerland two and a half years ago. And the very next day, my husband had arranged for me to start learning German at a language school. We met while studying abroad in Moscow. After we got married, I moved from my home in Kyrgyzstan to live with him. They say Kyrgyzstan is like the Switzerland of Central Asia. But between the huge city of Bishkek and our home in Langnau im Emmental, there were quite a few differences I had to get used to. I soon realised that, apart from my husband, I was pretty much on my own. If I wanted to become independent and make a living, I'd have to quickly get a Swiss qualification so as to have a chance on the local job market. Someone I knew told me about the INVOL+ pilot programme – a pre-apprenticeship programme that prepares migrants in a practical, career-oriented way for a vocational apprenticeship. It was exactly what I was looking for and I applied for one of two INVOL+ positions at the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). I never thought it would work – but it did. And I became the first INVOL+ trainee at SEM in the field of business administration. It was something of an experiment. I worked three days a week in the division secretariat and then went to a vocational school for two days. In many ways it was completely different from what I was used to in Kyrgyzstan: flat hierarchies, a more relaxed atmosphere, career opportunities for women. It was all very motivating and I was really committed. After six months, I received an offer to do my three-year apprenticeship in business administration here at SEM. I was delighted. After studying public administration in Kyrgyzstan, I’ve now managed to start my career in administration here in Switzerland. All thanks to INVOL+. It certainly was a successful experiment!”

Nagy Aiperi


Entry Division, SEM