Vocational training is a longer-term investment that demands vision, consistency and continuity. Even in economically difficult times, it must always be oriented to the longer-term developments and prospects of Switzerland as a centre for business, thought and work, allow for changes in the world of work and take social trends into consideration.

Basic education – a commitment to young people and to social responsibility

That is why Migros has consistently expanded the quantity and quality of its training programme, transcending all business and economic cycles. In 2002, Migros employed just 2,179 apprentices, but by 2009 there were 3,264 apprentices working at Migros. In just 7 years, the number of training places has therefore increased by 49.8%.

In 2009, 40 Migros enterprises were offering young adults a professional future in over 40 different trades. The wide range of training places has thus been combined with the optimum interchangeability between the different training courses and forms within professional training programmes, because to meet future requirements in the world of work training in a specific vocational field is not exclusively decisive; it is more the ability to adapt flexibly to the constantly changing conditions on the labour market.

Continued employment after basic training is a declared aim for Migros, one that was followed again in 2009. In response to the government’s appeal not to reduce the number of training places because of the financial and economic crisis, and to continue to employ young people after their training, other major business enterprises announced that they would continue to employ about 50% of their apprentices once they had completed their training.

The percentage of apprentices kept on after training rose slightly to 65%. Of the 1,006 apprentices who completed their training in 2009, 656 have been kept on as employees. In individual Migros Cooperatives and Industry companies, the percentage of those kept on in employment was 75-85%, and at Migros Bank the figure was actually 94%.

Demographic changes, combined with the trend to university education, are creating major problems for the economy and the State. On the one hand, because of the low birth rate numbers, by 2018 there will be 12% fewer school leavers entering the apprenticeship market.

On the other hand, it has been established that an increase in matriculation rates could also pose a problem; this may lead to an upwards trend in the selection criteria for apprenticeships, with weaker candidates falling by the wayside.

Migros is well equipped to face these challenges. To give academically weaker youngsters a real chance in the world of work, 20% of the apprenticeships at Migros are reserved for certificate training courses.

And, with the “New Talents” campaign, launched in 2009, Migros has embarked on a marketing programme for apprenticeships, in which 1,000 new talents will be sought out every year for vocational training at Migros. Migros is thus conducting the biggest casting campaign in Switzerland.

Continuing training – lifelong learning

Future-oriented vocational training, and therefore a training enterprise such as Migros, can no longer be restricted to training for a single trade or profession; it must at the same time incorporate willingness for lifelong learning and the capability of professional workers to develop their skills and knowledge in a specialised and social sense. Lifelong learning is a reality. That is why there is a need for a varied programme of continuing training, as well as in-house learning and career development opportunities.

Continuing vocational training at Migros is not left to chance. It is done systematically using a competency model, to ensure that it corresponds to the needs of the individual and the business, promotes the necessary key qualifications and is effective over the long term. The necessary measures are discussed and agreed at the periodic M-FEE talks.

With regard to the optimum fulfilment of their role within the company, and the development of the requisite skills, all members of staff have a right to paid continuing vocational training. This means that the company pays their salaries in full while they are undergoing continuing training, and bears the cost of the continuing training programmes. The right to such continuing training is not limited to a specific number of days.

Migros will also support anyone who uses their leisure time for professional advancement. Those attending teaching programmes and courses at the Migros Club Schools, one of the leading providers in the modern adult education sector, are entitled to claim some of the costs from the company.

In 2009, the Migros enterprises invested in total over CHF 35 million – not including salary payments during continuing training and other absence-related costs – in continuing training for its employees.

Migros also makes use of the possibilities opened up by the new vocational training law within the framework of its continuing training programme. As is generally known, this provides for the experience of professional workers who have no vocational qualification, but have at least five years’ vocational experience of a job which could have been learned as a trade and completed as part of a basic vocational training programme under the training ordinances, to be counted as training time. One of the possibilities afforded by this instrument is the ability to exploit the potential of people returning to work.