SWITZERLAND & SERBIA
DYNAMIC AND MULTIFACETED COOPERATION H.E. PHILIPPE GUEX
Dr GABRIJELA GRUJIĆ
Ambassador of Switzerland to Serbia
Assistant Minister for Dual Education
MAJO MIĆOVIĆ President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce
Although the Swiss watch industry accounts for only around 2.5% of global production in terms of unit numbers, it is by far the leading exporter of watches in value terms, with export revenues of more than CHF 20 billion.
Switzerland is internationally known for its high quality chocolate. Between the 18 Swiss chocolate companies, 172,376 tons of chocolate were made per year. The Swiss eat more chocolate than any other nation in the world, 11.3 kg per year.
Rosti is one of Switzerlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s popular dishes. Rosti is a Swiss potato dish perhaps best described as a cross between hash browns and a potato pancake. It is popular throughout Switzerland as a breakfast food. It's cut into wedges and served with sausages or other meats and cheeses.
With an area of 580.03 km2 (224 sq mi), Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland. It is shared with France (40.47% is within French territory) where it’s known as Lac Léman. The largest lake completely within Switzerland is Lake Neuchâtel with a surface area of 218.3 km2 (84 sq mi). For the most part, the water is so clear that you can drink out of rivers and lakes. Only if you cannot see the bottom of a lake is it considered dirty.
Switzerland is home to 208 mountains over 3,000 meters high. A beautiful experience for in shape hikers is the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route, a 12 day classic Alpine trek that will bring you straight to the well-recognized Matterhorn. Switzerland has more high peaks than any other country in Europe with 48 that are above 4000 meters.
Emmentaler, or Emmental, cheese is also known as Swiss cheese in the United States because it has large round holes running through it. It originated in the 13th century near Bern. A single Emmental cheese weighs about 120 kg and requires approximately 1500 L of fresh milk for its production.
Niesenbahn is the longest continuouscable funicular in Europe, functioning since 1910. You can ascend to the summit of the Neisen mountain in about 30 minutes with the coolest ride out there.
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DYNAMIC AND MULTIFACETED COOPERATION H.E. PHILIPPE GUEX
Ambassador of Switzerland to Serbia
In order to unlock this potential and attract more Swiss investors, especially from small and medium-sized enterprises as the engine for innovation, growth and employment, further efforts are required in the fields of the rule of law, further economic and administrative reforms, and increased fight against corruption
ilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia are close, dynamic and wide ranging. They are characterised by close human and cultural relations, a series of bilateral agreements and good cooperation in multilateral organisations. Switzerland and Serbia have been long-standing partners since 1991 and with Swiss financial support totaling 400 million EUR, Switzerland is among the most important of bilateral donors. For the period 2018-2021, it is almost 100 million euros that the Swiss government is going to spend in Serbia for local governance, economic development (including for youth employment) and renewable energy. H.E. Philippe Guex, Ambassador of Switzerland to Serbia, talks about the prospects of cooperation between our two countries.
How would you rate the bilateral relations between our two countries? The bilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia are dynamic and multifaceted. They cover the whole spectrum of bilateral relations, supported by many bilateral agreements. From the economy to science, transport, education, art and culture, we are enjoying various partnerships with Serbia, complemented by the fact that Switzer-
THE ELECTIONS IN 2020 WILL BE A TEST FOR SERBIAN DEMOCRACY
land is amongst the top bilateral donors and ranks amongst top investors. Each segment of our bilateral relations evolve around the connection between the people of our countries, at the center of everything. Switzerland is one of Serbia’s most important trade partners. What is the current state of the economic and political relations between our two countries? The political relations are excellent and the recent visit of the Serbian Prime Minister Ms. Ana Brnabić to the President of the Swiss Confederation M. Ueli Maurer on the occasion of the Swiss Digital Day illustrated that point. As far as our trade relations are concerned, there is still untapped potential; however, we see positive trends going towards more
relations in dynamic sectors such as the ICT and start-up sectors where Serbia is performing well. Do you expect to see more Swiss investments in Serbia? In which segments can the Swiss and Serbian companies cooperate? Certainly, we do. Switzerland is among the top 7 investors in Serbia with around 500 companies with Swiss capital doing business and employing over 12.000 persons. Most of the companies are SMEs delivering outsourcing services. Swiss companies like Nestlé, Sika, SGS, Roche, Novartis, Schindler to name just a few of the major ones are expanding and planning to diversify and upgrade their business. More than 1 billion euros of Swiss investments have come to Serbia in the period from 2010-2019. In order to unlock this potential and to attract more Swiss investors, especially from the small and medium enterprises as the motor for innovation, growth and employment, further efforts are required in the fields of rule of law, further economic and administrative reforms, and increased fight against corruption. To what extent do the job profiles, incorporated in the Serbian education system, fit the workforce needs of Swiss companies in Serbia? Can we already see the positive effects of dual education in Serbia? We can say that we see the first positive effects of the dual education reform in Serbia and that all involved stakeholders are very committed and engaged. We are supporting the ongoing research, under the lead of the Swiss professor Dr. Ursula Renold of the ETH Zurich, assess-
ing the implementation of the reform and its produced results. The overall picture of stakeholders’ awareness, willingness, and motivation to implement the dual VET law is very promising. Although there are reasons to take this optimism with a caution, it is an accomplishment on the part of this initiative’s leadership and is a major advantage in the upcoming effort of implementation.
Serbian goods? A new government will be formed in Pristina. It is an opportunity to restart the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. Let us not prejudge of the result, in one way or another, but keep an open mind. This is the position of Switzerland, whose support to the process of normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is total.
Although not an EU member, Switzerland actively supports Serbia on its way to joining the EU. What do you think of the results that Serbia has accomplished so far in that respect?
Serbia and Switzerland also have strong cultural and historical ties. How much do the two countries cooperate in other segments and how does your Embassy promote Switzerland in Serbia? Switzerland has a good reputation in Serbia. We value very much each time we hear from people living in Serbia compliments about our country, our political system, wealth, competitiveness. We must preserve such positive feeling; there is perhaps not a single more important task for our Embassy. Cooperation in the field of culture and art is a way to reinforce this unique link, the friendship and the trust between our people. It is in this spirit that the Embassy is opening its doors 3 times a year to the public to exhibit art pieces by Swiss and Serbian artists.
MORE THAN 1 BILLION EUROS OF SWISS INVESTMENTS HAVE COME TO SERBIA IN THE PERIOD FROM 2010-2019 My assessment is that much has been done in terms of reforms so far, but much remains to be done to anchor once for all fully-fledged democratic institutions and market economy. Rule of law, judiciary independence, freedom of media and fight against corruption need to improve their track records in order to catch up with the EU standards. It is a long process, but the only recipe to prevent the Serbian people to be misused again by autocracy and nationalism.
What issues should be a priority for the Serbian government in 2020? 2020 will be an election year. We see it has an absolute priority for Serbia to have an inclusive election process for all political parties involved, including fair media coverage. These elections will be a test for Serbian democracy. And, there is not much room for mistake. In the meantime the government should continue to focus on the reforms.
Could you comment on the Kosovo government refusing to revoke the tax on
SWITZERLAND IS AMONG THE TOP 7 INVESTORS IN SERBIA WITH AROUND 500 COMPANIES WITH SWISS CAPITAL DOING BUSINESS AND EMPLOYING OVER 12.000 PERSONS SWITZERLAND 2019
RECOGNIZES QUALITY We are working on the final phase of complete digitization of our products and services by introducing new Building Automation solutions called Modulo 6. The Internet of Things and iCloud technologies are the backbone of our business
MLADEN VUKANAC General Manager of Sauter Building Control Serbia
n an over 100 years long history, the SAUTER Group has managed to position itself worldwide as an expert in central monitoring and control systems, as well as the automatic management of individual premises. SAUTER uniquely blends a global perspective with a local presence, and a traditional approach with innovative solutions. The company is known for always bringing innovation to the Building Automation sector. We spoke with Mladen Vukanac, General Manager of Sauter
Building Control, about the company’s operations in Serbia.
What are SAUTER’s plans for the following period?
Four concepts are always present in our business: constancy, innovations, reliable quality and knowledge
— We are working on the final phase of complete digitization of our products and services by introducing new Building Automation solutions called Modulo 6. The Internet of Things and iCloud technologies are the backbone of our business. This gives us even more flexibility, which, in turn, gives us the ability to shorten the time we respond to market needs and certainly boosts our competitiveness.
Which Swiss values that you adhere to in the company and are these values recognized by our market? — Four concepts are always present in our business: constancy, innovations, reliable quality and knowledge. Our market recognizes quality, and if it were not so, Sauter would not have survived this long. The technologies we use in our country are not lagging behind with projects in much more developed EU countries. All our clients think long-term. With such a mindset, Sauter is their logical choice. What needs to be done in terms of legislation to improve the business climate in order to be closer to the EU? — To preserve and improve the quality of business operations, we need to have a level playing field. Reducing the shadow economy, boosting competitiveness and same market rules for everyone are essential.
IN T ER VI EW
THE EXPERIENCE OF OUR SWISS COLLEAGUES WAS VALUABLE TO US Dr GABRIJELA GRUJIĆ
Assistant Minister for Dual Education
The effects of the implementation of the Law on Dual Education will be visible in three to four years when the first generations of students, who have attended dual education under the Law, complete their formal vocational education
expect that, thanks to dual education, young people will get the opportunity to acquire knowledge management skills through cooperating with companies, and, as a result, we will restore in the Serbian education something it has been lacking for a long time the joy of learning. In this way, we will develop critical thinking, creativity, increase the motivation for learning, and boost the confidence of young people that their knowledge is valuable because they are employable immediately after they complete the desired level of education. Most importantly, young people will become leaders, build successful careers, and stay in their own country. Football analogy of this would be – you hire young Ronaldo, invest in him and create a great value for yourself instead of “buying him”
THE LAW ON DUAL MODEL IN HIGHER EDUCATION AIMS TO REACH THE RELEVANCE RELATED TO THE HARMONIZATION OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM WITH THE NEEDS OF THE LABOUR MARKET
in the market for huge amount money," Assistant Education Minister for Dual Education, Dr Gabrijela Grujić says at the beginning of the interview. The Serbian Parliament adopted the Law on the Dual Model of Studies in Higher Education in September. Can you tell us more about this law? The Law on the Dual Model of Studies in Higher Educationaims to reach the relevance related to the harmonization of the higher education system with the needs of the labour market. The very decision to pass such a law was made primarily to support young people Serbia,
who, through various surveys, pointed out to us the shortcomings of the previous model of work practice and that the students participated in the work practice programme without mentoring, that there was no programme evaluation and that they did not get a certificate upon completing the practice. This law benefits students in a way that they now have the opportunity to have 450 hours of active classes, following the respective curricula, but also to spend 450 hours on learning through work in companies. The financial compensation for on-the-job learning is a net amount of at least 50% of the basic earnings of an employee working in the same or similar jobs So, in a word, this law brings order into the system, that is, the respect for the rights and obligations of all stakeholders. It provides young people with the quality of modern competencies and a "usable" diploma while employers get the young, educated staff that will not only sustain the Serbian economy but also its innovation and competitiveness in the global market. Often, work experience is one of the requirements in job ads. Through the dual model in higher education, young people will obtain a certain number of ECTS credits and a priceless experience that is valued immediately after education. The dual model of study is more demanding and difficult but more promising. Students who complete dual studies, given the relevant practical experience, significantly increase their competitiveness in the labour market and have a greater chance of employment. Adopting the Law on the Dual Model of Studies in Higher Education brings the benefits that higher education institutions will recognize and thus decide to introduce such a
study model. Some of the benefits would be attractive study programmes, as well as students directly informing the system on how to modernize its study programmes. Could you tell us about the results of the implementation of dual education in high schools so far? How satisfied are the employers and how much the students?
OUR LAW IS ADAPTED TO THE SOCIAL, CULTURAL, ECONOMIC, AND BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS OF SERBIA AND THE CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR COUNTRY'S EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM ď&#x20AC;ś The European Training Foundation (ETF) surveyed the quality of implementation of learning through work in Serbia. The results of this research best reflect student and company satisfaction. About 62% of students rated learning through work with the highest grade. Students believe that dual education has boosted their confidence (65% of students), the development of teamwork skills (72%), the development of a sense of responsibility (58%) and the motivation to learn (52%). More than 60% of employers would hire the best students after completed high school education. In the next few months, we are also expecting to see the results of a survey conducted under
THE LAW ON DUAL MODEL IN HIGHER EDUCATION AIMS TO REACH THE RELEVANCE RELATED TO THE HARMONIZATION OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM WITH THE NEEDS OF THE LABOUR MARKET 8
the SDC project "Support to the Development and Establishment of a National Dual Education Model", which aims to examine the process of implementation of the Law on Dual Education. In addition to the research data on which we base further development of dual education, the statements from students and their instructors also validate the quality of these teaching models. How much did the Swiss experience and cooperation with their institutions help you in implementing dual education in Serbia? ď&#x20AC;ś The experience of our Swiss colleagues was valuable to us. For three consecutive years, Serbian representatives have been participating in the Summer School of the Centre of Economics and Management of the Education and Training System at the Technical University in Zurich. During the first year, representatives of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry presented a draft Law on Dual Education and exchanged ideas with representatives of other countries during the summer school while Professor Ursula Renold and her associates gave feedback. During the second year, the representatives of Serbia worked on the document - Master Plan for Implementation of the Law on Dual Education - which is a strategic document for devising and implementing a major reform such as the reform of dual education. This year, the representatives of Serbia worked on the specific case of the challenges we face when it comes to the implementation of the Law, which is to create a separate dual curriculum that will differ from the classical vocational profile.
In addition to lectures and group work, during the summer school, we also visited Swiss companies implementing dual education and had the opportunity to talk with students, instructors, company directors, HR staff and career advisers. We can proudly say that this year we have presented the Master Plan to other participants of the summer school and that we are the only country participating in the summer school that had this privilege. The cooperation was further supported by the SDC project "Supporting the Development and Establishment of a National Dual Education Model". A Master Plan was created, as well as the rulebooks stipulated in the Law on Dual Education and a Communication Strategy. A series of surveys were also conducted, and we also have to finish the framework for monitoring and evaluation of the dual education system by the end of the project. In Switzerland, two-thirds of children attend vocational high schools after compulsory elementary schools because the dual system allows everyone to thrive. What are the expected effects of dual education in Serbia? As I mentioned above, the Law on Dual Education has been implemented since this school year. The effects of the implementation of this Law will be evident in three to four years when the first generations of students, who have attended dual education under the Law on Dual Education, complete their formal vocational education. What we expect is faster and easier employability of young people after graduating from high school, the better quality of youth competences, reduction in youth unemployment and preventing brain drain among young people. We expect "recognition that education is truly the highest value". I would like to underline that the Serbian model differs from other models in that it protects the general education which is the pillar and the basis for reflecting on the value of the education of every young person. The job qualifications, which are acquired in two places, are an added value for young people so they can see for themselves what modern technological development looks like (design, programming, CNC machine management, industry 4.0 ..) by learning in a real work environment. In this networked way we
SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO PLAY A CENTRAL ROLE IN YOUTH EDUCATION obtain modern competences, that is, the need for equal evaluation and knowledge, skills and stances. While implementing dual education, Serbia did not look up solely to Switzerland but some other countries too. Could you tell us how much dual education differs in Switzerland and Serbia? When devising the Law on Dual Education, we learned from countries that have had a long tradition of implementing dual education. However, our law is adapted to the social, cultural, economic, and business characteristics of Serbia and the characteristics of our country's educational system. In comparison to other countries, students in Serbia are not officially employed but are learning through work. They first enrol in the school, and only then, depending on which company the school has a contract with, the student is assigned to learn through working at a certain company. Schools continue to
play a central role in youth education. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia accredits companies, which means that only companies that have met the statutory requirements can implement work-assisted learning (while ensuring occupational health and safety for students, as well as ensuring the quality of work-assisted learning). Instructors, or employees who underwent training for work-assisted learning work with students in the company. In addition to the instructor in the company, the coordinator of work-assisted learning, that is, the school employee, also plays an important role who, together with the instructor, participates in devising a plan for realization of work-assisted learning and monitoring of students' progress. Following the adoption of the Law on the Dual Model of Studies in Higher Education, what are the ministry's further plans for this segment? Will there be further legal regulation or is the focus now solely on implementation? The relevant legislation is in place. The consideration of opportunities for rapid and quality implementation and, of course, the stakeholders' satisfaction with this teaching model are much more important than that.
INTEGRAL PART OF THE OVERALL EDUCATION REFORMS MAJO MIĆOVIĆ
President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce
Dual education became an integral part of the overall education reforms in Serbia, and Switzerland is recognized as a reliable partner by the Serbian Government in this process
s you probably know, numerous analyses have shown that the healthiest sectors of the Serbian economy (IT sector, tourism, education, energy agricultural sector) are receiving more and more investments which directly have a positive impact on strategic digitalization of businesses and social eco-systems. The SSCC is taking the role of active factor of both members and management board by increasing exposure, creating networking opportunities, providing better understanding of business community concerns, with more credibility, while providing stronger voice in local decision-making and strengthening the cooperation between the Embassy and its development bodies, and with Swiss development support organisations”, says at the beginning of the interview Majo Mićović, President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
volves as of May 2018 a special regulation, GDPR, established by the EU. How does it reflect on Serbian business ecosystem? The fact that Serbia is not officially a member of the EU does not mean that it does not need to, under certain conditions, comply with the GDPR. This EU regulation applies to Serbian compa-
THE SWISS EDUCATION SYSTEM ENJOYS AN EXCELLENT REPUTATION WORLDWIDE AND COMBINES HIGH-QUALITY VOCATIONAL TRAINING WITH UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
Digital economy development in-
nies which either (i) offer goods and services online in the Union, or (ii) monitor behaviour of the EU residents, as far as their behaviour takes place within the Union. All Serbian companies should start preparing their compliance with the GDPR, because of the adoption of the new Serbian Data Protection Act and at the same time adoption of a culture of personal data management. This should not be seen only from the perspective of penalties but from the perspective of creating awareness of the possible consequences of misuse of personal information, both at the individual and collective levels. In practice, this means that companies will have to carry out the necessary logistical, organizational and technical measures and activities, which in turn will contribute to the overall improvement of the security of both data and business processes in companies. Dual education is one of the key factors for Switzerland's economic success and
competitiveness. What can Serbia learn from Swiss practice? The Swiss education system enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide and combines high-quality vocational training with university education. This dual system empowers the country's capacity for innovation and creativity, factors that are crucial to keep and attract skilled workforce, which is one of the challenges Serbia is facing. As a high-income country, Switzerland relies on innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaborative partnerships for growth. This leads to a large number of highly qualified employees with global leadership skills and specialized personnel with a vocational background. In Switzerland, it is easier for companies to find qualified, multilingual, motivated, and loyal employees. So, I believe that Serbia can learn along those lines above a lot from the Swiss educational system, which represents the gold standard in vocational education and training. How satisfied are you with the implementation of dual education in Serbia so far?
COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES HAS A PERSPECTIVE, ESPECIALLY IN THE FIELD OF ICT, NOT ONLY THROUGH OUTSOURCING BUT ALSO IN INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Dual education became an integral part of the overall education reforms in Serbia, and Switzerland is recognized as a reliable partner by the Serbian Government in this process. Serbia made considerable progress, but it is still in its commencement, and it would be hard to see some significant immediate results in terms of increasing the capacity of skilled workforce. I’m convinced that such results will soon actually be visible, especially because supplying the economy
with qualified labour is one of the key challenges in Serbia. What are the experiences of Swiss companies operating in Serbia regarding the business environment, workforce quality and the new investments outlook? As both Serbian and Swiss citizen, I can firmly say that I was aware of the business environment we as investors would establish our companies in. It was only natural to meet both virtues and flaws of the environment, and the plan was to find a balance between those characteristics, which we managed to do by developing Sky Express, one of the leading companies in Serbia and the region in the field of ICT security distribution and consulting. Quality of the workforce, its language skills, technical quality and work ethics, in addition to administrational support from the Government are quite an intriguing and positive aspect of investment activities in Serbia. On the downside, there are some typical post-transitional economy’s aspects: somewhat insufficient per-
ception of the corporate culture, the legal system still doesn’t follow the economic needs of the society, the market is still not protected from the influence of large public companies, etc. All in all, investing in Serbia still gets a lot of positive echoes in global business ecosystems. How do you rate the total trade cooperation between the two countries? Where do you see the possibilities for further development of this cooperation? Switzerland has been a long-term partner with Serbia in transition cooperation and a valuable supporter of the Serbian reform agenda. Good bilateral relations are a result of a large Serbian diaspora (close to 200,000) living in Switzerland and also it’s the presence of 570 Swiss financed companies in Serbia. On the one side, it is obvious that the total bilateral exchange of 450 million euros is far from the capacities and needs of the two countries. Although Switzerland is an important donor in an economic sense, those investments don’t seem to impact on strengthening the exchange of goods between the two countries to a greater extent. On the other side, when it comes to attempts by Serbian companies to find a place for themselves on the Swiss market, we can only say that they are sporadic, and I sincerely admire our people from Serbia who invest their capacities to prove themselves on the Swiss market. Regarding possibilities for further development, I believe that areas with more capacity are primarily ICT security, which is one of the most prominent ICT trends worldwide, then the development of business applications, digital entertainment, such as the
gaming industry, and agrotech applications. As an example, company Sky Express d.o.o, which was established by Swiss capital, proves that cooperation with Switzerland is certainly possible: for nine years already, Sky Express and Zurich-based OPEN Systems – an MSSP world leader – have been cooperating in providing the secure internet communications for Serbia’s most important state bodies. What is the most important thing that Serbia needs to change in order to attract more investors from Switzerland?
THE BEST PROOF THAT SERBIA IS AN INTERESTING MARKET FOR SWISS INVESTORS IS THE FACT THAT THERE ARE SEVERAL HUNDRED COMPANIES FOUNDED WITH SWISS CAPITAL ON THE SERBIAN MARKET Yet again, I must admit that it is difficult to select one aspect because businesses and investors diverse vastly. The best proof that Serbia is an interesting market for Swiss investors is the fact that there are several hundred companies founded with Swiss capital on the Serbian market. From my viewpoint, Serbia needs to be much more aggressive in present-
AS BOTH SERBIAN AND SWISS CITIZEN, I CAN FIRMLY SAY THAT I WAS AWARE OF THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT WE AS INVESTORS WOULD ESTABLISH OUR COMPANIES IN 12
ing its potentials to Switzerland, to use this remarkable advantage in bilateral relations with Serbia, that no other country has to that extent - a remarkably qualified and strong Serbian diaspora community in Switzerland, living only an hour and a half away by air from Serbia. Per year, hundreds of millions of euros are sent to Serbia from people who work in Switzerland to their families and closest ones. This large amount of money still ends up in grey channels of rash spending without any usage as investment, one that would strengthen the economic cooperation of our two countries. That’s what I think should be the most important change, to be implemented as soon as possible. The role of our Chamber in that aspect is analysing possibilities and finding adequate channels to relate those capacities to bring Swiss and Serbian markets closer together. You have mentioned in your previous interviews a very strong Serbian diaspora in Switzerland. How do you conceive its importance to further the two countries relations development? Cooperation between the two countries has a perspective, especially in the field of ICT, not only through outsourcing but also in innovative development of new products and services. The Serbian diaspora in Switzerland has extremely significant potential in both directions. On the one hand, apart from sending money for general consumption, the diaspora can invest money in creating new value by opening businesses in Serbia. On the other hand, with the help of their compatriots in Switzerland, Serbian companies could achieve great export results.
INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION CREATE OCCUPATIONAL PROFIL
Prof.Dr. URSULA RENOLD
Industry associations lead the way in creating a new occupational profile and the associated curriculum
witzerland has a strong vocational and professional education system (VET). It offers mostly dual-track VET programmes at upper secondary level and broad tertiary-level professional education programmes. Prof. Dr. Ursula Renold talkes about specifically this Swiss system and Serbian education.
Switzerland has supported VET reforms in many countries for more than 60 years. Why do you think that dual education is an important topic for Serbia? Dual education is a necessity for every country in the face of rapid digital change. This rapid change in the world of work poses a challenge for schools and universities alike, as they are generally unable to respond so quickly to change, adapt their curricula accordingly and train prospective professionals in the best technologies. Those who can combine learning at school and at work at the same time have a comparative advantage. One is automatically trained on the best technologies in the workplace
and can learn from several role models regarding soft skills. Why is dual education important for the Serbian economy? Companies often complain that they cannot find the highly qualified workforce and therefore cannot drive productivity and growth in line with the other framework conditions. From research on voca-
DUAL EDUCATION ALSO DRIVES INNOVATION, WHICH CAN HELP COMPANIES REACH AND PUSH THE INNOVATION FRONTIER tional training in Germany and Switzerland we know why companies train and that self-trained apprentices are likely to be able to continue working in the
company or to find a job with another company in the same sector. If a country succeeds in training a large part of the talent pipeline itself, they have the best prerequisites to increase productivity and thus growth. Dual education also drives innovation, which can help companies reach and push the innovation frontier. To what extent is the Swiss model of dual education applicable in Serbia? It is an illusion to believe that one system can be transferred from one country to another. The economic, social and especially cultural conditions are too different. Research, on the other hand, can help to understand the functions that make up an efficient dual system and to apply them in diverse socio-economic and socio-cultural contexts. Evidence already shows that different contexts—in terms of labor market regulations, union density, and other factors—can successfully have dual education systems as long as they are adapted to fit the context. Take the function of professional associations. These are mostly organisations
of companies that have joined forces to secure young talent in an industry. They support the creation of occupational profiles, partly also curricula and organise, for example, the training of instructors. Such associations make it possible for small and medium-sized enterprises to provide training because they are supported by the association in terms of content and methodology. Switzerland has around 400 such professional associations. Serbia also has industry associations and a very strong Chamber of Commerce and Industry. But not all industry associations today have a function comparable to that of Switzerland. The new dual education law already assigns CCIS a very important role. In addition, Serbia has Sector Skills Councils, which can in the future play a role comparable to that of the Swiss professional associations. However, the development of such institutions needs time and intensive dialogue so that everyone can understand the benefits of this joint partnership. What is the difference in understanding dual education in Serbia and Switzerland? I focus on three main differences, i.e. 1. the creation of framework curricula for an occupation, 2. the characteristics of what dual education is and 3. how companies find apprentices and conversely how apprentices find their respective companies. In Switzerland, industry associations lead the way in creating a new occupational profile and the associated curriculum. Schools and teachers are part of a reform committee. But according to the law, business has the right to submit an application to the ministry. In Serbia, firstly, the school curriculum is separated from the company curriculum and secondly, the Ministry of Education has a much more important steering competence. In Serbia, two models of dual education currently co-exist, which makes it difficult to help break through the new requirements of the law. If companies provide training in Switzerland, there are clear rules which must be observed. In particular, no company may provide training if it does not pay the apprentice an apprentice's wage that in Switzerland averages 20% of the monthly wage of a fully trained skilled worker. There is development potential here in Serbia. In
Switzerland, 14-year-olds are exposed to a market for the first time in order to find an apprenticeship. This is called the apprenticeship market, which exists as an Internet platform where supply and demand for apprenticeships meet. In Serbia this is carried out in a relatively complicated process by school coordinators and the MoESTD. The evaluation of the implementation of the new dual education law will show whether this approach will prove successful. In your opinion, to what extent does the introduction of dual education help address the looming shortage of high-quality workers and make Serbia more competitive in creating new jobs?
IN SERBIA, TWO MODELS OF DUAL EDUCATION CURRENTLY CO-EXIST, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO HELP BREAK THROUGH THE NEW REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW Dual education is an important prerequisite for providing skilled workers and improving economic prosperity. The highly qualified, practice-oriented skilled workers it creates can contribute to increasing the productivity of companies. Companies can use the creativity of their skilled workers to generate innovative products and processes. Our research on the Swiss companies' pool of skilled workers shows that a good mix of skilled workers with dual VET and academic education improves companies' innovation performance. What has Serbia achieved so far in the field of dual education and what has not? The Serbian parliament has already passed a dual education law, which is in the implementation phase. The first year with student enrolment under the new law started this September. It is gratifying that there is a great deal of interest on the part of the companies and that work
is being carried out with great time pressure to implement all the regulations of this law in conformity with it. I am also very positive about the close cooperation between CCIS and the Ministry of Education and its related institutions. This is not a matter of course, but this cooperation is a necessary prerequisite for strengthening dual education. As in every other country that implements such a complex project, there is still a need for clarification among various stakeholder groups. Our first research results on accompanying the implementation show that the key stakeholder groups are generally aware of the law and very willing to do their part. As we move into the more complex phases of implementation where actors have to make real changes and fully understand the law, there will be challenges and that is normal. The ongoing leadership from CCIS and the MoESTD, combined with companies and schools continuing their efforts on the practical end, is a good recipe for success. Good communication and sharing of information will be critical. One observation we make from a research perspective is that Serbia still allows various competing approaches to dual education. This can be explained by the historical development. However, it does not simplify communication with all those involved. There is a need for action here. Furthermore, it will also be important to show companies the economic benefits of dual education. We will conduct a cost-benefit study next year to find out whether the Serbian dual model behaves like those in countries with successful dual education systems, namely that companies’ cost-benefit ratio is balanced, or even positive as it is in Switzerland. When the system has strong curricula and good quality assurance mechanisms like final exams, companies’ earning benefits is a sign of a win-win for companies and students. The students in these companies have the chance to do more important work, so they learn more and have better skills. This would be a valuable insight for attracting more companies to dual education. If Serbia succeeds in winning the companies for this dual education and also in paying the VET student an appropriate salary, then the essential prerequisites will have been created for establishing the system in the longer term.
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PRINCIPAL PARTNER FOR DUAL EDUCATION
Our economies have all the prerequisites to boost cooperation
President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia witzerland has been helping Serbia to implement the Dual Education Law. We spoke with Marko Čadež, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, about what our country has been doing in this field, how important it is for the economy and the relations between the two countries.
Are businesses satisfied with the implementation of dual education so far? It was at the initiative of businesses, with the dedicated involvement of the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia, and thanks to the great Swiss, German
and Austrian financial and professional support of top experts, such as Dr Ursula Renold, Serbia was the first in this region to introduce dual education through pilot projects. Serbia was also the first to pass a law on dual education in high schools,
FROM 2010 1.1 BILLION EURO WORTH OF DIRECT INVESTMENTS CAME FROM SWITZERLAND
which has been in force since September. More recently, the implementation of this educational model in colleges has been legally formalized. Companies have expressed their interest and satisfaction in being able to acquire the personnel in this way which is best illustrated by the fact that, in the first three years of the pilot projects, from 2013 to 2016, we had 40 companies involved in dual education. Today, there are 20 times more - about 800 - of which 280 are new and have opened their doors to students since the beginning of this school year. In the meantime, the students have become more interested in studying for
the dual occupations which businesses need, as did schools, in holding theoretical classes according to a new educational model. Thus, about 6,100 students are currently studying for 35 dual professions in Serbia. 3,500 of them have been involved in dual education for several years, while 2,600 started this year. Theoretical classes for these professions are held in 72 secondary schools in 48 cities and municipalities throughout Serbia. In what areas and in what segments of the economy has Switzerland supported the introduction and development of dual education in Serbia so far, and are Swiss companies operating in Serbia involved in this process? With Swiss financial and expert support, we have developed one dual profile - a furniture manufacturing operator. This new educational profile was introduced to the school system in September 2016 when the first generation of students enrolled. Today, 305 students are enrolled in seven cities, or municipalities in Serbia, to study for this occupation, of which 173 are newly enrolled first-year students. Students have their practice in more than 30 local companies. Switzerland's support in this area is all the more important when we take into consideration that the wood processing industry is one of the sectors with the highest development, export and investment potential, both domestic and foreign investments. One of the reasons that the capabilities of this economic segment have not been sufficiently utilized so far was precisely the lack of workforce with adequate knowledge and skills required by the labour market, i.e. domestic businesses and foreign investors.
At the same time, Swiss companies have shown interest in getting involved in dual education; namely, working with students studying for other dual occupations. For example, Nestle has expressed the need for staff to be trained in six educational profiles in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and agriculture, food production and processing. Are there any drawbacks to implementing dual education and where do you see room for further improvement?
OUR BILATERAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION IS A REFLECTION OF EXCELLENT AND GROWING SWISS INVESTMENTS IN THE SERBIAN MARKET Although large companies, especially foreign ones with experience in dual education in their countries of origin, were among the first to participate in pilot projects, open doors to students and participate in the creation of educational profiles, dual education is nowadays popular with small and medium-sized enterprises. There is also a significant number of micro-firms that will have to join training alliances to be able to pass the accreditation process and to verify the eligibility for a work-based learning organization. These companies are willing to do that, or if they have already engaged in dual education, to remain in the process.
However, they also have weaker capacities to meet the prescribed conditions and challenges that they face in practice. They do not have a large number of employees, so it is more difficult for them to allocate employees who will devote time to students, while certain legal provisions make it difficult for them to participate and get involved in dual education, such as those where they are required to attend training for instructors. Also, dual education costs money that can be significant for smaller companies, so the provisions relating to the calculation of student fees and insurance and transportation costs should be reconsidered. For the time being, we are gathering examples from practice, both good and bad, to launch an initiative to amend the law, remove the limitations indicated by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and enable them to become more widely integrated into the dual education system. How would you rate the economic cooperation between the two countries so far, the current situation and potentials? How many Swiss companies currently operate in Serbia? What is our foreign trade like? Our bilateral economic cooperation is a reflection of excellent and growing Swiss investments in the Serbian market, modest foreign trade and growing trade in services between the two countries, large and untapped opportunities for strengthening economic ties and the vast Swiss experience, that is so valuable to Serbia and that Switzerland selflessly shares with us through projects to support the Serbian economy and the private sector in almost every area from high-tech manufacturing to educa-
THE COOPERATION AND SWISS EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD OF INNOVATION, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ARE ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT SWITZERLAND 2019
both goods and services) with Switzerland is approaching 1 billion euro. The growing trade in services has far outstripped trading in goods and exceeded 600 million euro last year. Serbia's export of services to Switzerland amounted to about 400 million euro, which is three times higher than our export of goods, while Serbia's surplus in trading in services was 50 per cent higher than the value of exported goods to the Swiss market.
tion. 533 companies with majority Swiss capital operate in Serbia, as many as 72 in the ICT sector. It is estimated that the total Swiss investments, i.e. initial and subsequent investments of Swiss companies, have far exceeded 1.5 billion euro, which put Switzerland in the top ten countries in terms of foreign investments. In the period from 2010 to the first half of this year alone, according to the data collated by the National Bank of Serbia, 1.1 billion euro worth of direct investments came from Switzerland. With the value of investments made in the first six months of this year amounting 220 million euro, Switzerland has secured the third position on the list of largest foreign investors for the time being. Unlike investment cooperation, the commodity trade between the two economies is still far below potential and Switzerland is only the 27th external trade partner of Serbia in the world. Despite the geographical proximity, the fact that we have a free trade agreement with the EFTA countries and the fact that total trade with Switzerland has increased 1.3 times in the last ten years since 2008, ending 2018, as well as that our exports have doubled, we ended last year with a rather modest value of ex-
IF TRADING IN SERVICES COUNTS, THE VALUE OF OUR TOTAL EXTERNAL TRADE (OF BOTH GOODS AND SERVICES) WITH SWITZERLAND IS APPROACHING 1 BILLION EURO ternal trade - 350 million euro, of which 131 million euro are Serbian exports. In terms of exports, although last year we recorded an increase of almost 26 per cent and this year's export increased by 8.6 per cent in first eight months relative to the same period last year, Switzerland is still one of the Western European markets in which the Serbian manufacturers have unfortunately not made a breakthrough so far. It remains a large unused space for us and a great deal of work that awaits us in the coming period. True, if trading in services counts, the value of our total external trade (of
In which branches of the economy can companies from our two countries achieve better cooperation? ď&#x20AC;ś Our economies have all the prerequisites to enhance the existing cooperation. Thanks to complementary opportunities and needs, mutual trade in goods can be more balanced, trading in services can continue to grow and investment activities and overall economic relations can be even better and more successful. Joint analyses indicate that except in the services sector - ICT sector and tourism - companies from the food, pharmaceutical, mechanical, furniture, plastics and textile industries have the biggest opportunity for improving trade and investment cooperation. There are also significant opportunities for energy cooperation, especially in the renewable energy segment, and environmental protection. Apart from dual education, in which other areas can Serbia and Switzerland cooperate? ď&#x20AC;ś There is almost no area in which there are no opportunities to bolster our economic ties, but I would particularly like to point out something especially important for us in Serbia, that is the cooperation and Swiss experience in the field of innovation, research and development. Switzerland, which has been a world champion in the Global Innovation Index for years and one of the most competitive countries in the world which tops the World Economic Forum list, is the best example that the most innovative economies are also the most competitive economies and that knowledge and innovation and their connection to the economy, are some of the main pillars of national and business competitiveness, their market success and sustainable development.
It’s Important to Have a
CLEAR GOAL It would be good for all of us not to question the justification for investing in youth
GORAN JANKOVIĆ Director and Proprietor of Inmold Plast d.o.o.
ounded in 2006, Inmold Plast is a dual education leader in Serbia. In 2011, together with a vocational high school in Požega, Inmold started training students for the positions they needed in production. The company’s founder and director, Goran Janković, a mechanical engineer, and his team of experts have contributed decades of work experience in the field of injection moulding tools, automated systems for the IML packaging industry, as well as the production and processing of plastic products to the company’s success. In this interview, Mr Janković talks about the benefits of dual education, what led to his decision to be a pioneer in this area and working with young people.
Your company is a dual education pioneer in Serbia. In 2011, together with the Technical School in Požega, you enabled students to have this kind of education. How did you come up with the idea? — As an entrepreneur who has been using the latest Industry 4.0 equipment, I faced a problem called the lack of skilled labour who would operate on that equipment. I have travelled extensively all over the world and particularly in Europe, and I have been learning, summarizing and analyzing the
experiences of companies that are successful. I realized that you conquer the market if you find a way to make young employees stay with your company.
How difficult was it to be the pioneer of dual education in Serbia? — I have set a clear goal, which is that I must tie in knowledge, experience, youth and enthusiasm together, in a harmonious way. Of course, I didn't come to the right solution straight away. I tried to do it myself by working in my day job and teaching my young staff about the know-how and skills that are necessary for my job. I had a strong will and a clear path towards achieving this goal opened up. However, the company’s business was growing and I was no longer able to commit to young people. That’s when I started looking for another solution. I was trying to solve the problem by working with other institu-
The fact that the average age of the staff in my company, the scholarship recipients included, is 28 tells you that I certainly benefit from that and that the company has a future
tions that could be helpful. I took people off the job market, but the results I received were far removed from my expectations. When a person thinks hard about something and tries to solve it sooner or later, problem-solving opportunities are created. The collaboration with the Technical School from Požega appeared as a solution that continues to bring results even today. This is a new seed of cooperation between the business community and the public sector, which already existed and was quite functional in the period from the 1960s to 1980s.
Inmold has quite a lot of scholarship students who are expanding their knowledge by working on the factory grounds, on state-of-the-art CNC machines. How much prosperity has this way of doing business brought to your company? — The fact that the average age of the staff in my company, the scholarship recipients included, is 28 tells you that I certainly benefit from that and that the company has a future. I expect a lot and hope for the best. So far, I'm pleased. Do you have any advice for companies that are just getting involved in the dual education system? — It would be good for all of us not to question the justification for investing in youth. Do good and good will come back to you, providing you are persistent.
We Need to Work Much More if We Want to
BE SUCCESSFUL AS THE SWISS In the future, we will strive to work closely with our dear Swiss friends and to improve and enrich the results achieved so far in dual education
TOMISLAV MILETIĆ Chief mentor for practical education at Inmold Plast
omislav Miletić, the chief mentor for practical education at Inmold Plast, talks about his experiences in working with scholarship recipients and implementing dual education in Serbia.
How many students have gone through your training programme so far? What was your experience of working with them? — The cooperation between our company and the Technical School in Požega began in 2011, when the first generation of scholarship recipients enrolled in the school, studying to be computer management technicians. Twelve scholarship recipients were selected and this wasn’t an easy fete considering that everything back then was new and that the outcome was uncertain. At that time, the pupils who enrolled in the mechanical engineering high school were not known for their excellent grades, but they did come from hard-working families, had good work habits acquired at home and great potential for practical activities. Everything had to be practical, mixed with theory as needed. The goal was to empower young students and for them to become our full-time employees after graduating from high school or the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Since 2011 to date, a total of 75 high school students and about 30
university students, mostly mechanical engineering students, have gone through our training programme. We currently have 24 active scholarship recipients and our plan is to take on 9 more (33 in total) in the second semester of the current school year. After nine years of working with children, it's hard to imagine our company without them. It is a great joy to work and learn with them, as well as to follow the latest trends in the business world.
How many trainees usually get a job after they complete the training programme?
Since 2011 to date, a total of 75 high school students and about 30 university students, mostly mechanical engineering students, have gone through our training programme What are your selection criteria? — So far, 30 of our scholarship recipients have found permanent employment, which is about 45% of the total number of scholarship recipients, so on average, seven find a permanent job. This school year, after 9 years, we are going to employ one of the scholarship recipients who graduated from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. The most important selection criterion is
that the person is an honest and good individual.Scholarship recipients should love hands-on work and have a preference for engineering sciences, above all mechanical engineering.
Have you changed the training system since 2011, and if you did, in which way? — In many respects we have improved our work with children because, in the initial phase, we did all the training in facilities where the trainees followed the skilled workers like a shadow and were just observing what they were doing. We noticed that this approached lack something and consequently, we started bringing in equipment into the company’s education centre which is today known as the INTEC Centre (the Inmold Technical Education Centre), spans 200 square metres and is the place where we hold practical training for our scholarship recipients and young employees. How important was the Swiss experience for the implementation of this programme? — We are glad to have someone to learn from and to implement what we have learned in practice. Our attendance at a conference organized by the Serbian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Belgrade was a validation that we have done well so far and it also opened our eyes to what else we have to do to be as successful as the Swiss. In the future, we will strive to work closely with our dear Swiss friends and to improve and enrich the results achieved so far in dual education.
I NT ER VI EW
SSCC'S GROWTH: INCREASING THE NETWORK OF INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERS ANA GRUJOVIĆ
Executive director SSCC
Finding high-quality workers still remains to be challenging for many companies, and especially for small and medium-sized enterprises ognized as one of Switzerland Global Enterprise partners worldwide three years ago and to gain their trust and partnership as well. Being listed in the top three among all Swiss bilateral chambers is a proof of our successfull connection and regular exchange of information with S-GE. This can only inspire us to strive to further enhance the cooperation with our partner from Switzerland in order to enable companies from both Switzerland and Serbia to develop new business projects and find potential business partners.
he 2020 will mark the sixth year of SSCC’s work. Ana Grujović, Executive Director of SSCC, talks about further plans, dual education and the recently concluded conference.
According to the assessment of Switzerland Global Enterprise, its cooperation with the SSCC is in the top three among all Swiss bilateral chambers worldwide. How much does this result mean to you? It is a well known fact that Switzerland is one of the world’s most competitive economies and that cooperation with
Swiss institutions, companies and any other type of organization requires a high level of quality, reliability and professionalism. We were very honored to be rec-
THIS YEAR ALSO MARKS THE BEGINNING OF SSCC’S COOPERATION WITH SWISS BILATERAL CHAMBERS FROM THE REGION
What were all your activities during 2019? In 2019, we continued to organize events exclusive to SSCC members, such as Members’ Reunions and Expert meetings. Many of SSCC members were happy to host these events in their own premises, so we visited many companies, such as SR Technics, Zuhlke Engeneering, Roche and Nestle production facilities in Surčin as well. One of the first events this year was the traditional Fondue event which was hosted by H.E. Phillipe Guex, Swiss Ambassador to Serbia. The Swiss Cheese Fondue event was held in the Swiss Residence in Belgrade in January, when SSCC members had an opportunity to discuss directly with representa-
tives of the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss Cooperation Office. This year also marks the beginning of SSCC’s cooperation with Swiss bilateral chambers from the region as we have welcomed our colleagues from the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce this April in Belgrade. At the same, there were many events co-organized with business associations in Serbia, such as the International Networking Cocktail, Speed Business Meetings, Networking cocktail at the Kopaonik Business Forum. Furthermore, we are continuing with the practice of keeping our members updated about the current legislative changes in Serbia. For example, the seminar Serbian GDPR – new rights and obligations, organized in cooperation with SSCC member ’’Law Office Joksovic, Stojanovic and Partners’’ received excellent fedeback from SSCC membership. The chamber’s focus has been on dual education for some time. In what segments do you see progress, and in which more work still needs to be done? Following the Board’s decision, SSCC’s focus on the topic of dual education continues in 2019. Our highlight event, the annual Conference, emphasized the importance of the private sector companies’ role in the development and implementation of the dual education system. The Conference was taking place during the Week of Dual Education in Serbia, October 21-25, 2019. We were very proud to welcome our guests of honor from Switzerland, Dr. Ursula Renold, Head of Division Comparative Education System Research, ETH Zurich, and Mr. Arthur Glattli, Managing Director, Swissmem VET. They presented the Swiss VET system
Director at Education Division, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as our guests of honor. The meeting discussion focused on explaining all the steps needed to start a company’s engagement in the dual education process in Serbia: the accreditation procedure, instructors’ training, students’ placement in firms, etc. Also, this meeting allowed to share experiences and best practices among companies regarding this matter.
and more particulary, was explain how Swiss employers’ organizations and industry associations contribute to shaping the VET program according to market needs. From my point of view, this is the question that deserves more attention and clarification. How relevant is the issue of the availability of high-quality workers among your members?
You have also used a survey to gauge the level of satisfaction among CCSS members in the Chamber and its work. What kind of feedback did you receive from members? The fifth consecutive ‘’SSCC Business Climate Survey in Serbia 2019’’ was conducted among the members of the Swiss-Serbian business community in April 2019. Most of the survey respondents evaluated the current business climate in Serbia as satisfying. Also, the results showed that majority of surveyed companies expect to see changes in the following business environment areas: public institutions’ efficiency and administrative procedures, fight against corruption, as well as ensuring legal security and stability.
THE 2020 WILL MARK THE SIXTH YEAR OF SSCC’S WORK. THE PLAN OF ACTIVITIES WILL FOLLOW THE NEEDS AND INTERESTS OF SSCC MEMBERCOMPANIES Today, the knowledge economy demands that young people need sophisticated skills. Many of these skills can be gained only throughout apprenticeships and internships inside the companies. Finding high-quality workers still remains to be challenging for many companies, and especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In order to enable SSCC members to overcome this challenge successfully and get involved in the dual education process in Serbia, we organized the Expert meeting this September with Dr. Gabrijela Grujić, Assistant Minister for Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, and Mrs. Mirjana Kovačević.
What are your plans for 2020? Will the focus continue on dual education? The 2020 will mark the sixth year of SSCC’s work. The plan of activities will follow the needs and interests of SSCC member-companies. We will continue on focusing on the further strenghtening of the SSCC membership, gaining new members, developing new initiatives and on expanding SSCC’s network of institutional partners as well.
FINDING HIGH-QUALITY WORKERS STILL REMAINS TO BE CHALLENGING FOR MANY COMPANIES, AND ESPECIALLY FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES SWITZERLAND 2019
EDUCATION AS A RECIPE
Why is dual education so successful in Switzerland?
lthough dual education exists in many other countries, Switzerland has been very successful in implementing this system, as evidenced by the high number of students choosing vocational schools. Switzerland has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe (only 2.5%) and one of the best living standards in the world. Many people agree that the dual education system is one of the factors for having a strong and stable economy. Different employers within the same industry, such as banking, often come together to create effective courses and training for young people who would afterwards work for their company. In this way, companies get a wide selection of potential employees who are already versed in the way the company operates. Also, this system provides many benefits for students. In addition to the money they earn, students can implement the curriculum they theoretically learn in class. Besides, they are very young, placed in the same work environment with adults, and receive greater responsibilities and mentoring support in the workplace. Particular attention is given to students who are at risk of leaving the programme, and most already have a job after graduation. Switzerland has recognized that students can make the wrong choice when deciding what career to have at the age of 15, which is why there are career counsellors to assist students in their selection. It
is also possible to transfer from vocational school to general or specialized school, or to obtain an additional diploma after graduation from vocational school and enrol in college. This shows that students in vocational schools have plenty of opportunities to devote themselves to an academic career if they choose to do so. The dual education system was significant for Switzerland, which has a very high cost of living and lacks significant natural resources. In this situation, a skilled and well-educated workforce is needed for the economy to be successful, and dual education has contributed to this.
STUDENTS EARN BETWEEN 600 AND 700 EURO PER MONTH Education is mandatory for all children in Switzerland and, depending on the canton in which the school is located, mandatory education lasts from 9 to 11 years. The curriculum is not central,
MANY PEOPLE AGREE THAT THE DUAL EDUCATION SYSTEM IS ONE OF THE FACTORS FOR HAVING A STRONG AND STABLE ECONOMY
but local. Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons, which have different educational programmes, which makes moving often a challenge for parents. After graduating from lower secondary school, students continue their education in upper secondary schools, which are divided into vocational and general secondary schools. In Switzerland, upper secondary schools are not compulsory, but over 90% of students completing lower secondary education continue their education at an upper secondary school. Over 70% of students in Switzerland attend secondary vocational schools, which last from 2 to 4 years. Students in these schools generally receive practical skills, and various companies provide students with opportunities for work practice. The curriculum of vocational secondary schools combines classroom lessons with practice and training at different companies. There are over 230 vocational courses available to students who opt for vocational schools in Switzerland in various fields. Students are initially paid about 600 to 700 euro a month on average for their work in a particular company, and if they work longer for the company, they can earn over 1,000 euro a month. A third of students in Switzerland enrol in baccalaureate schools (similar to gymnasiums in Serbia) after completing lower primary education, which further prepares students for college. About 5% of students enrol in specialized schools, focusing on areas such as health care, social work and education.
Sustainable Operations Mean Success
For us, as owners of Basna, big profit is not a priority, but rather it is the growing positive impact of our business on the community and our visible participation in the global environmental movement
VESNA BAUR Owner of the Basna Company
asna is a Swiss company, headquartered in Čačak, which is engaged in the conversion of biomass into heat and a high quality charcoal. The company's beginnings in 2010 were difficult because nobody new about charcoal other than for BBQ purpose. Vesna Baur, the owner, firmly decided that Basna would be among the most innovative companies here.
Your company is constantly working on innovation. Could you tell us more about that? — We are producing Semi Activated Charcoal via pyrolysis technology. It meets stringent quality requirements after the European Biochar Certificate (EBC). This product has a broad purpose: it is an essential ingredient in animal feed and in the absorption of fungal toxins from animal feed (reduces the need for antibiotics and improves food conversion). It is also used as an organic soil breeder (increases humus content and plant fertility). In anaerobic digestZ ers it reduces the need for quality silage and increases the output of electricity. In fact, you can find more and more biochar based application in the market. What sets our concept apart from other renewable energy projects is the ability of biochar to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere and keep the C-atom "trapped" in its carbon grid (a natural carbon sink) for decades. In this way, we make a major contribution to the fight against the greenhouse effect. The technology of Biochar is listed by the
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) as a eligible technology for the fight against global warming.
What is the key to your success? — Sustainable operations mean success in business for us; a clear direction that loses none of its passion and quality over the years. For us, as owners of Basna, big profit is not a priority, but rather it is the growing positive impact of our business on the community and our visible participation in the global environmental movement. You are the President of the Nadežda Petrović Association of Businesswomen. What are the main problems that female entrepreneurship is facing today? — Women entrepreneurs need to invest more effort to achieve business credibility than their male counterparts, lack adequate access to finance, and have limited international business experience. Cultural and social stereotypes are present too. We have been hearing such and similar statements for years. The fact remains that the business climate has improved, but new regulations are needed to facilitate and accelerate women's entrepreneurship. On the other hand, many women, even though
The fact remains that the business climate has improved, but new regulations are needed to facilitate and accelerate women's entrepreneurship
they have the skills needed to launch a new business and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, are opting for entrepreneurship out of necessity, very timidly. We need women who show that barriers are not insurmountable - women like members of the Nadežda Petrović Association. Finally, I would like to point out that, according to statistics, 50% of working-age women are not employed. And at a time when, for many reasons, we are running out of workforce, it becomes a priority to tap into this potential.
How important is it for companies to network in associations and chambers? — Today, power lies in information and the largest source of information is precisely in the business support network. The values you seek are at your fingertips and the ones you offer have a far quicker and longer reach, if you are open to business connections. Our company is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Our chamber memberships give us the opportunity for decision-makers to hear our voice. By being affiliated with the Business Women Association, on the other hand, we contribute to the domestic business environment in terms of empowering and promoting women in business. Besides, my husband and I are longtime members of Rotary International. By being members of this organization, we fulfill our need to help the community we live in, and through international projects and beyond, we also have a strong connection with business people globally. Networking is important because maybe we can go faster by ourselves, but together we move forward.
C O O P E RATI O N
SUPPORT FOR A BETTER LIFE The cooperation between Switzerland and Serbia over the past years is based on the priorities of the Government of Serbia investing in education, science, research and development, innovation and digitization
ack in the 1960s and 1970s, people from this part of the world went to Switzerland to look for better jobs and better pay. Every one of us knows at least one person who packed their suitcase in search for a better life in Switzerland. In the last few years, this country is working on bringing that good life here, in Serbia. The Swiss government has been investing huge amounts of money in our country plus it has been sharing its know-how and experience. Over the past few years, Switzerland has been a partner to us that helped us to implement dual education in our education system with success. There are currently about 6,000 high school students and about 880 companies participating in the dual education system in Serbia. Switzerland is the country most often quoted as an example of the success of dual education. Decision-makers also refer to Switzerland’s positive experiences, while this country has recently donated around 8 million Swiss francs to youth employment projects in Serbia. The relations between the two countries are good and friendly, as evident in the recent visits of Prime Minister Ana Brnabić to Switzerland. Namely, she had meetings with all important Swiss officials in September, after which she said that the bilateral relations between the
two countries were good, that there were no unresolved issues between them, and that Belgrade and Bern had had excellent cooperation over the past few years. The cooperation between Switzerland and Serbia over the past years is based on the priorities of the Government of Serbia - investing in education, science, research and development, innovation and digitization. With the Swiss help, Serbia developed the first science and technology park in Belgrade that currently employ over 700 engineers from 70 companies. Serbia also became the 23rd full-fledged member of CERN in Switzerland this April.
SWITZERLAND HAS DONATED AROUND 8 MILLION SWISS FRANCS TO YOUTH EMPLOYMENT PROJECTS IN SERBIA Due to the good relations, it was also announced that Switzerland and Serbia will organize meetings twice a year at which, in addition to political topics, there will be talks about the cooperation between the business communities from the two countries, with the aim of boost-
ing investments in research and development in Serbia. The aim of the Strategy for Swiss Cooperation with Serbia is for another 4,000 people find employment by 2021, 10 million euro in generated revenue, 7 million euro in the IT exports, improving living conditions for 10,000 citizens through improved energy efficiency, as well as improved civil services in as many as 100 local government units. As a bilateral partner, Switzerland has been present in the Republic of Serbia since 1991, first through humanitarian and then donor support. Over the past 28 years, the value of Swiss support for Serbia and its citizens has amounted to € 350 million. The new Strategy for Swiss Cooperation with Serbia, which covers the period from 2018 to 2021, is a continuation of many years of support for the reform processes that Serbia has been pursuing in the European integration process and is a testament to Switzerland's commitment to this bilateral partnership. With the new Cooperation Strategy, which follows the government priorities at the national and local level, the Government of Switzerland has allocated €95 million, which is 10% more than for the previous four-year strategic period. Over the next four years, Swiss support will be focused on good governance, economic development and sustainable energy.
Many Decades of Experience
IN TOOL CONSTRUCTION The company’s specialty is thin-walled injection molding tools and injection molding tools for technical parts
NMOLD is a family-owned company founded in 2006, founded by Goran Jankovic, who, with his team of experts, has contributed decades of experience in the field of injection molding tools, automated systems for the IML packaging industry, as well as the production and processing of plastic products to the company’s success. INMOLD’s core activity is production of high quality tools for injection molding of plastic and non-ferrous metals. Their specialty is thin-walled injection molding tools and injection molding tools for technical parts. In addition to tools, the company’s is also working on creating IML robots. In addition to tooling, INMOLD offer repair and tooling services, plastic injection, machining and laser welding. The factory's premises include the office building, manufacturing facilities (tooling, plastics, robot manufacturing), as well as support processes that
enable INMOLD to function as a whole. Company’s long-term strategic goals • Continuous improvement of product quality in order to fully meet the expectations of our customers; • Ensuring product safety, durability and safety; • Continuous promotion of product and process improvement in the company, as a key competitive advantage over the competition; • Goal planning, monitoring, analyzing and reviewing the results achieved and the Quality Policy; • Organizing business activities in accordance with IATF 16949, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 standards; • Base business on competent, professional, experienced and creative staff; • Ensuring transparency of the Quality and
Environmental Policy for all employees and all stakeholders. Vision "To provide our customers and partners with products and services from Inmold's product range that they will appreciate and recognize as a means of enabling them to reach their full potential." Mission "With hard work and thoughtful investment, continuing to develop a stable and strong company which is able to offer the best quality at competitive prices." INMOLD PLAST d.o.o. Vojvode Mišića 5, 31210 Požega, Serbia Tel: +381 31 3 825 165, Fax : +381 31 3 825 565 firstname.lastname@example.org www.inmold-ltd.com
A C T I VI T I ES
WORKING YEAR Throughout 2019, the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce has had a number of activities that we present
SWISS CHEESE FONDUE EVENING IN THE SWISS RESIDENCE
The Swiss Cheese Fondue Evening was held on January 29 in the Swiss Residence in Belgrade. The host of this event was H.E. Philippe Guex, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Serbia and Montenegro. While enjoying original Swiss cheese and wine, SSCC members had the opportunity to discover the art of making the cheese Fondue and network with representatives of the business community and the Swiss Embassy in Belgrade.
The Business Meeting With The Eu Delegation Of Serbia was held on Thursday, January 24th. The event was co-organized with the Slovenian Business Club, AHK Serbia and Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Mateja Norčič Štamcar, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, and Mr. Yngve Engstroem,Head of Cooperation, spoke about the progress of Serbia’s EU membership and EU funding opportunities in the Republic of Serbia.
Swiss Fondue evening
BUSINESS MEETING WITH THE EU DELEGATION IN SERBIA
INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING COCKTAIL
The International Networking Cocktail took place on May 23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belgrade. Over 300 guests gathered to exchange business views and explore potential cooperation in the future. Together with SSCC, 12 other bilateral business associations co-organized this event, including the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, AHK Serbia, Nordic Business Alliance, Slovenian Business Club.
International Networking Cocktail
Majo Micović, SSCC President and Boni Bonev, Chairman of BSCC Managing Board Swiss National Day
MEETING WITH THE BULGARIAN-SWISS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE For the first time since its creation, the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce has established cooperation with a regional chamber of commerce from Bulgaria: the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce. SSCC was honored to welcomed over 30 guests – BSCC members- to Belgrade on Friday, April 12, 2019. The welcoming word was held by Mr. Majo Mićović, SSCC President, Mr. Boni Bonev, Chairman of BSCC Managing Board, and Mrs. Yana Mikhailova, SSCC Board members and the host of the reunion. Both chambers of commerce held presentations about their activities and involvement in the development of the dual education system in their respective countries. After this, guests were invited to a networking cocktail to create new potential business contacts and explore future cooperation. Also, BSCC and SSCC members were invited to visit the Nestlé factory in Surčin on Saturday, April 13, 2019 and discover the company’s new production capacities and product lines.
Speed Business Meeting
SWISS NATIONAL DAY H.E. Philippe Guex, Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in Belgrade and his spouse, welcomed guests at the Ambassadorial Residence. Among the guests were high representatives of the Serbian Government, as well as many public figures, representatives of the diplomatic community and SSCC members.
SPEED BUSINESS MEETING On October 8h the Hotel Royal Inn in Belgrade welcomed over 40 member-companies of four bilateral business associations: Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Croatian Business Club and Belgian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The event was sponsored by SSCC member-company Sky Express, regional leader in data protection, which recognized the importance of this event and supported the initiative. After Ms. Grujović’s welcoming speech, Sky Express representatives held a presentation about the company’s corporate services and innovative solutions in data protection and informa-
tion security. During B2B meetings, participants presented their products and services to potential business partners through 8-minute meetings, exchanged their experiences and expanded the business network.
SSCC EXPERT MEETING ON DUAL EDUCATION In his opening speech, Mr. Aleksandar Marjanović, General Manager of “Zühlke Engineering d.o.o.” welcomed guests and presented the activities of the company. SSCC President, Majo Mićović, together with the guests of honor, Dr. Gabrijela Grujic, Assistant Minister, Ministry for Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, and Mrs. Mirjana Kovačević, Director at Education Division, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia CCIS, conducted the meeting. Also, Mr. Slobodan Janković, director of the company “Inmold Plast d.o.o.” from Požega shared his experience in dual education in Serbia with SSCC members. The event was hosted by SSCC member-company “Zühlke Engineering d.o.o.”
SSCC Expert Meeting On Dual Education
CON F ER EN CE
THE ROLE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR Switzerland Experiences Applicable In Serbia
ver 6.100 students and approx. 900 companies are involved in the dual education system in Serbia, not only in Belgrade and Novi Sad, but in over 50 cities in Serbia, said Majo Mićović, President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, in his opening speech of the Conference “Dual Education Serbia 2019: the role of the private sector”. The conference was part of the ”Week of dual education in Serbia’‘ which took place from 21-25 October 2019 in Belgrade. - For the second time, SSCC is demonstrating its capability to recognize the critical points for the further development of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia by organizing the second Conference on the topic of dual education. This Conference is gathering all relevant stakeholders: private company representatives of both countries, members of the diplomatic core, business associations and public administration - said Majo Mićović, SSCC President. - I am happy to say that we have achieved our objective and brought back a missing element to the Serbian education system, which is the joy of education and the joy of learning. The dual education system offers the opportunity to young people to learn theory but also to
gain practical knowledge in Companies said Dr Gabrijela Grujić, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the RS. Jean-Luc Oesch, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Switzerland to Serbia and to Montenegro, stressed that the topic of dual education is very important for bilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia.
THE CONFERENCE WAS PART OF THE ”WEEK OF DUAL EDUCATION IN SERBIA’‘ - Today, education is one of the most essential factors for securing technological progress and innovation, thus it is most important to ensure that the standard of education develops alongside technological progress. This is particularly true when it comes to digitalization, a sector where Serbia has a brilliant future, and so relevant for the world of tomorrow. Dr Ursula Renold, Head of Division Comparative Education System Research, ETH Zurich, is the only international honorary member participating in the Serbian
Government Commission for dual education. - CCIS, SSCC and its member companies are the most important stakeholders to help to improve the productivity of the companies and train the next generation of talents. Furthermore, research shows that companies are facing a fast change of qualification requirements due to digital transformation. Therefore, all countries that invest in dual education may have a comparative advantage in the future said dr Renold. Arthur Glättli, Managing Director Swissmem VET Department, from Winterthur, emphasized the importance of the public-private partnership for the successful development of competency-based curricula for vocational education and training. - Developing of competence-based curricula for vocational education and training programs must be the result of a close private-public partnership. The responsible bodies for VET programs should be the private sector organized either by branch associations of private companies or by chambers of commerce. Under its initiative and lead the curricula development process and the implementationmust be coordinated with al affected companies, authorities, professional schools and VET education centres. The VET system of a country must be an integral part of the national education laws whichmust guarantee the possibility of further education of VET diploma holders up to any university degree -noted Mr Glattli. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on the topic of the private sector’s role in the development and implementation of the dual education system, with the following participants Dr Gabrijela Grujić, Dr Ursula Renold,Arthur Glättli Mirjana Kovačević, Director, Education Division, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Serbia, Tomislav Miletić, Chief Mentor, Inmold Plast and Thomas Schauer, Regional Manager South-East, Gebrüder Weiss.
ACCURACY AND QUALITY
Like a Swiss Watch
nyone with a keen interest in watches will acknowledge that when it comes to horology, the Swiss are synonymous with one thing and that’s high end top quality products. Today Swiss watches are prized the world over and represent the country’s third largest export. Over the centuries most major innovations in design and build have emanated from this centre of watchmaking excellence and if you are looking for “firsts”, first watchmaker’s guild, first perpetual watch, first wristwatch, first waterproof watch, first quartz watch etc. then the Swiss have pretty much got it nailed. When John Calvin banned the manufacture of jewelry in Geneva during the mid-16th century, that moment was the catalyst for both an economic and cultural shift in Switzerland. Because Calvin claimed that wearing jewelry was idolatrous, Swiss jewelers took their skills and changed their profession to watchmaking. This was the beginning of Swiss watchmaking history.
SWISS WATCHMAKING THROUGH HISTORY In 1601, the first watchmaking guild was founded in Geneva, marking a major step in establishing Switzerland as a destination for fine watchmaking throughout the world. By 1704, watchmaking dominated the Swiss economy.
There are several reasons for this. Switzerland’s cold winters forced many Swiss farmers indoors, where they found work creating and assembling watch components for firms based in Geneva. Unlike France, Germany, or even England at the time, Swiss watchmaking’s non-central nature lent well to mass production. As Europe rapidly industrialized in the 1800s, Switzerland’s watch industry grew along with it, bringing both innovation and efficient production (though not necessarily together).
TODAY SWISS WATCHES ARE PRIZED THE WORLD OVER AND REPRESENT THE COUNTRY’S THIRD LARGEST EXPORT As a country, Switzerland balanced the influence of the artistic French to the west and the industrious Germans to the north. Swiss watchmaking married together the aesthetics of a watch’s design with the precise attention to detail required to ensure its quality. Both of these traits created a culture that was ideal for creating fine timepieces requested by the elites of the world at that time. At the turn of the 20th century, Swiss watchmakers zeroed in on the emerg-
ing American market with good quality watches at mid-range prices; they succeeded in dominating that market by the post-WWII period. It certainly didn’t hurt that Switzerland’s neutral status during both world wars allowed it to capitalize on military needs for both sides, keeping Swiss watchmaking facilities open and productive during contentious times. The 1970s and 1980s saw Switzerland struggling with new quartz technology from Japan, a period which saw massive layoffs from major Swiss watch brands— they were quickly losing market share to less expensive and more accurate battery-powered timepieces. In response, Swiss watchmakers re-calibrated. They started celebrating heritage, distinguishing themselves as luxury items high in quality and design. It’s a strategy which has served them well, even with the growing number of German, American, and even Chinese watch companies fighting for market recognition. In the past decade, many Swiss watchmakers have evolved their operations toward becoming ‘manufactures,’ which means they’re making their watches in-house. This distinguishes them from watch brands that buy components for assembly or companies that use a base movement and adjust it to their needs. Even with the increasing consolidation of watch manufactures under luxury holding companies like Richemont or LVMH, this is the most popular industry trend of the last few decades.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF A SWISS MYTH eidi is the moving story of a little orphaned Swiss girl who finds happiness in her Alpine paradise and touches those around her with her warm heart and high moral values. Published in 1880, the first volume of the novel was an immediate hit among readers in Switzerland and Germany. Author Johanna Spyri (1827–1901) published the second volume just a year later, and the novel was subsequently translated into French, English and many other languages. A 1920 translation into Japanese marked the beginning of the Japanese devotion to Heidi. Then in 1974 an anime series introduced her to children all over the world. The countless film adaptations and serialised novels published since 1880 have taken various degrees of freedom with the plot. Heidi has nevertheless remained an iconic Swiss figure who is recognised the world over and whose story reflects life in Switzerland in the 19th century.
She is the most famous Swiss child. Heidi has enchanted generations of readers with her love of life, her independence and her thirst for freedom
ALTHOUGH THE MOVIE WAS ENTIRELY SHOT IN THE US, IT REINFORCED THE AMERICAN IDEA OF SWITZERLAND AS AN ALPINE PARADISE
A STORY OF MANY SWISS MIGRANTS The novel starts with a sad moment: Aunt Dete brings 5-year-old Heidi to her paternal grandfather who lives in seclusion on a mountain pasture above the village of Maienfeld in the canton of Graubünden. Dete leaves the orphan girl with the grumpy old man and hurries away to take up a job as a maid in Germany. Like many Swiss workers and peasants at the time, the aunt emigrated to make a living. Poverty, hunger and inhumane factory conditions were widespread in 19th-century Switzerland. To make matters worse, many Swiss farmers saw their potato harvest destroyed by the blight wreaking havoc in Europe. Some 330,000 Swiss emigrated between 1850 and 1888, most headed for the United States. Heidi has been an orphan since the
death of her father on a construction site and loss of her mother to grief shortly after. The paternal grandfather, called AlpÖhi, a Swiss German expression meaning Uncle on the Alp, does not welcome his new charge at first. Heidi soon wins him over with her exuberance, warm character and interest in nature. The contrast between the austere mountain life and the urban setting of an emigrant’s daily routine abroad is brought to the reader’s attention when Aunt Dete returns to the mountain pasture and takes Heidi to Frankfurt. There, shut up in the mansion of
an upper-class German family, she falls ill. Unlike most 19th century emigrants, Heidi’s exile comes to an end. Seeing that she is homesick, the family’s physician Dr Classen insists that she return to her Alpine home.
AN INTERNATIONAL CAREER Like Mark Twain’s ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’, Heidi was part of an emerging children’s literature in the 19th century. Heidi’s story has been progressively altered in various translations and adaptations. In English alone, there are about 13 different translations. The original Heidi novel has inspired many a film producer. Heidi’s first screen appearance was in a silent movie released in the US in 1920. The 1937 Hollywood movie by Allan Dwan, with child star Shirley Temple in the role of Heidi, was the first sound film of Spyri’s novel. This loose adaptation was a box office hit and soon reached European cinemas. Although the movie was entirely shot in the US, it reinforced the American idea of Switzerland as an Alpine paradise.
SKIERS’ PARADISE You haven’t really been to Switzerland until you’ve climbed up the summit of at least one mountain
owhere are the Alps more ravishing than in Switzerland. Rippling across 60% of the country, these phenomenal peaks look like ready-made Christmas cards when the flakes flutter and fall. But when every dinky Swiss village has a ski lift and local threeyear-olds know their snowplough, how do you begin to pick a piste? Ever since winter tourism was born in St Moritz in 1864, the Swiss have harnessed the magic of the mountains as only ski-mad perfectionists possibly could. They carved lines across ritzy Verbier and rounded the Matterhorn-topped Zermatt, but even away from Switzerland's star
slopes there’s always a resort with your name on, no matter your style, budget or proficiency. Switzerland’s skiing is concentrated in several distinct regions. Easiest to reach are the Vaud and Valais resorts in the south-west – Villars, Crans-Montana, Leukerbad, Nendaz, Saas-Fee, Verbier,and Zermatt – that line along the Rhone valley from Lake Geneva towards central Switzerland. To the north of the Bernese Oberland, the vast mountain massif that divides the north of the country from the south, are the Jungfrau region’s Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren and plenty of other less well-known resorts such as Adelboden and Meiringen in Haslital.
Graubűnden in the east is Switzerland’s biggest holiday destination and home to big names such as Davos and St Moritz and many lesser known gems including Arosa, Disentis, Klosters, Laax, Lenzerheide, Pontresina, Samnaun and Savognin. Much of the skiing throughout Switzerland features big vertical from top to bottom, often accessed by huge cable cars, making for a very different ski experience from the ranks of modern multi-seater chairlifts that criss-cross the slopes of big ski areas elsewhere, with their rapid lapping of medium-length terrain. Even where substantial investment has taken place, such as the enormous improvement in uplift and ski area connections in Zermatt, the raw material remains unchanged and unmatched: mountains like the Matterhorn, the Eiger and Jungfrau, and the glaciers and peaks around Saas Fee, still have their backdrop of little red trains winding through quaint villages. Most relevant to dedicated skiers is the average altitude of the country’s ski slopes. Switzerland’s ski resorts are high and relatively snow-sure, with plenty of glacier skiing; though Switzerland can’t claim immunity from snow-drought, it would be a particularly unenterprising skier who failed to find good snow conditions to slide on at any point during the long season.
NOWHERE ARE THE ALPS MORE RAVISHING THAN IN SWITZERLAND lifts, places like Andermatt, Bruson and the Val d’Anniviers are not just for powder hounds, but good family skiers too. Equally unknown overseas, but with a big Swiss following, are major resorts in the east such as Arosa, Flims, Laax and Lenzerheide. Unless you need a truly international resort, these Graubunden ski resorts are all worth investigation as alternatives to better known Davos and St Moritz. Or in the Bernese Oberland try Adelboden which is the seventh biggest resort in the country, yet almost unheard of abroad thanks, until now, to limited flights into Berne airport (just an hour away). In all there’s sufficient quality to choose from that even a significant ski
HIDDEN SECRETS As well as the best known ski areas, there are plenty of smaller resorts in Switzerland catering primarily for local weekend skiers. If you can put up with the isolation (you might not see many skiers on weekdays), and some truly historic
EVER SINCE WINTER TOURISM WAS BORN IN ST MORITZ IN 1864, THE SWISS HAVE HARNESSED THE MAGIC OF THE MOUNTAINS AS ONLY SKI-MAD PERFECTIONISTS POSSIBLY COULD 34
resort like Crans-Montana fails to make the Swiss first division, despite its size and conventional ranking. This is a positive reflection on the country’s strength in depth, not a particular criticism of Crans-Montana. And then there’s Leukerbad, home to the biggest and the highest Alpine Spa and Wellness centres in the Alps. Best for intermediates and above, Leukerbad is an interesting ski and spa destination for a weekend or other short break skiing holiday. Easily reached from Geneva and Zurich, it’s well worth a look. Then there are your hosts, the Swiss. Their worldwide reputation as the ultimate hoteliers is matched only by their famously serious approach to life (they even have a very small book entitled: Tell me a Swiss joke) and an equally serious attitude to making money. But wherever you end up, you can be sure of extreme fluency in English (as well as their first three languages) and universally high standards that include the warmest of welcomes. Looking after foreign guests has been a way of life here for well over a century and they do it well.