Vocational education and training has long been a cornerstone of Swiss development cooperation. A good education increases the chances of finding paid employment, earning a higher income, and thus living a decent life. As such, vocational education and training has a direct bearing on poverty. In addition, highly skilled workforce raises the competitiveness of companies, which are a driving force for development, and potentially frees resources for civic engagement and society as such.
Today, skills development is again a key topic in international development policies, not only within the framework of the Swiss development cooperation. The UN sustainable development goals 2030 urge and claim for more engagement in VSD. Goal 4 on education and goal 8 on economic growth cover important elements of VSD, including access, quality and outreach dimensions as well as youth employment or self-employment and entrepreneurship on the outcome level.
The SDC is opting for a context specific, broad approach to VSD. Access, quality and systemic interfaces with basic education as well as the labour market and the private sector are at the core of its strategic orientation.
Definition of VSD
The broad concept SDC applies for VSD encompasses all organised learning processes for the development of technical, social and personal competencies and qualifications that contribute to the sustainable long-term integration of trained people in decent working conditions in the formal or informal economy, either on an employed or self-employed basis. VSD usually combines theory and practice and can take place in schools or technical institutes, workshops or at the workplace in enterprises. According to the concept of lifelong learning, VSD can take place at all education levels, from lower secondary to tertiary, and one can acquire VSD throughout an individual's economically active life. It includes formal and non-formal VSD offers.
Relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals