Going beyond compulsory school

In 2015, the Conference of Cantonal Directors of Public Education – the institution that coordinates the national education policy – set as a priority goal that 95% of 25-year-olds in school in Switzerland be able to achieve a recognized post-secondary education. . diploma of studies.- compulsory. The implications of this strategic choice are clear: compulsory schooling is no longer considered sufficient for the full integration of the individual into the Swiss social and economic fabric.

Learning as the key to success

The greatest effort to achieve this result inevitably lies in a sector that is internationally regarded as one of the spearheads of the Swiss education system: that of vocational training, and in particular the dual one, which consists of alternating work with work. company and assistance. . In fact, it is unlikely, though not impossible, that children at the highest risk of dropping out will be absorbed by the upper-middle sector (high schools and the Cantonal School of Commerce), whose attendance will involve an investment in more lasting training. , which almost inevitably extends beyond graduation.

An achievable goal

It is no coincidence that the Department of Culture and Sports Education (DECS), in line with what happened in the other cantons, has adopted important measures to promote the integration of young people in vocational training: among the most recent we can mention the “More dual” projects – aimed at increasing and diversifying the vocational training opportunities of young people – and “Goal 95%” which provides for the individual support of young residents up to the age of 18.


FSO (2021)
Percentage of young people aged 25 with a post-compulsory diploma in 2016 and 2019

As can be seen from the graph, the data collected by the Federal Statistical Office show, both at national and cantonal level, that the objectives set are not far from being achieved: in 2019 (last temporary survey available), the Overall proportion of 25% of young people with a post-compulsory diploma have reached around 90%.

However, there are differences related to nationality and place of birth. 94% of 25-year-old Swiss and 93% of Swiss-born Ticino graduates had a post-compulsory degree, as did 87% of Swiss-born foreigners and 88% of Ticino-born foreigners. With regard to foreign-born foreigners, the proportion of graduates at national level stands at 77%, while that of cantonal graduates is 80%.

With a view to a reflection aimed at increasing the educational prospects of young people, these data must be considered with attention and intellectual honesty.

The differences between Swiss and foreigners

The differences between Swiss and foreigners born in Switzerland – in any case insignificant at both national and cantonal level – in the opinion of many professionals are due, at least in part, to the best network of contacts that a native person with training. companies.

On the other hand, the differences between foreigners born abroad and the other two groups seem more relevant and worthy of further study.

First, a proportion of between 77% and 80% of foreigners arriving from abroad with post-compulsory degrees is not at all modest; Although such comparisons are always difficult, it can be said that it is close to the proportion of the world’s population in other European countries. Given that some of these young people came into adolescence from countries with poor education systems, it testifies to the inclusive potential of Swiss vocational training, as well as the ability of most human beings to integrate. in new contexts.

In this sense, the evolution that has taken place in our canton is interesting: from 2016 to 2019 the proportion of 25-year-old graduates born abroad grew by 8%, standing above the national average, which, in the three-year period, remained substantially stable. . This phenomenon is probably due to a series of very early measures of support and guidance to young people most at risk of exclusion from post-compulsory education, who, although not specifically aimed at foreigners, had the main beneficiaries in the latter. .

Gaps to cover

However, the difference with respect to the other two groups remains significant. Surely this is also due to the fact that the certifications issued by the vocational training sector are extremely rigorous and require good basic schooling to be achieved. Experiences in the context of integration pre-practices – a measure to support young people arriving in Ticino after school age – have shown, in this sense, how difficult it is for some young people, although gifted in the profession, to recover the gaps resulting from having grown up in countries where it was impossible for them to attend compulsory schooling regularly -or even irregularly-.

To further reduce these inequalities – and thus pursue the general interest in enabling as many young people as possible to graduate and become fully integrated actors in the socio-economic fabric – the notion that post-compulsory schooling in Switzerland is likely to be overcome it must already have the appropriate linguistic and cultural tools at its disposal. Limiting the inclusive action of foreign children only in compulsory schooling seems, in fact, anachronistic, because the latter, even for young Swiss, is now only an intermediate stage in their growth path.

In collaboration with the Dfa, Department of Training and Learning

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