Ambassador McMullen Hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in Switzerland

Ambassador McMullen greets U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos upon her arrival in Switzerland.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Switzerland June 6 to June 8, 2018 to take a closer look at its education system, learn about apprenticeships, and meet with experts in the field. Secretary DeVos was invited by Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann to deliver a keynote address at the third International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) in Winterthur.

In her keynote speech at the International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training, Secretary DeVos highlighted how the U.S. can learn from the Swiss apprenticeship model.

Ambassador McMullen was happy to share with Secretary DeVos how Switzerland and the United States have worked and will continue to work together on the topic of apprenticeships. Secretary DeVos’ visit and interest in learning about the Swiss system is a great example of the continued cooperation between the U.S. and Switzerland.

Ambassador McMullen, Secretary DeVos, and Federal Councilor and Minister for Economic Affairs, Education, and Research Johann Schneider-Ammann visited the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich (ZHAW) on Thursday, June 7.  They received an in-depth look at the University’s Health Professionals programs and were able to talk to current students. The principals also stopped by the Movement Laboratory, where PhD students with different career backgrounds use robotics in the form of exoskeletons.

At the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich, Secretary DeVos, Ambassador McMullen, and Councilor Schneider-Ammann learned how the university collaborates with vocational schools on research projects.

Later that day, Ambassador McMullen and Secretary DeVos attended a dinner hosted by UBS with business leaders in Zurich. They discussed private sector involvement in apprenticeship programs and the active role companies take in cultivating the next generation of talent.

In addition, the Secretary visited the University of Teacher Education in Zurich, where she gained insights into teacher education and the success factors of the Swiss education system. She met with teachers, administrators, councilors and students at the biz career-counseling center and the vocational baccalaureate school in Winterthur. On her last day, Secretary DeVos visited the automation power company ABB and the libs training center for industrial professions in Zurich; there, she was able to talk to the young apprentices, who showed her their current projects.

UBS hosted the Ambassador, Secretary DeVos, and leaders in the business world for a roundtable dinner.

In her blog post summarizing the visit, Secretary DeVos wrote: “There’s a lot we as Americans can learn from other countries and how they set their students up for successful lives and careers. That’s why as part of my first trip abroad as Secretary I chose to visit Switzerland and witness their innovative approach to apprenticeships.”

With regard to Switzerland specifically, she concluded: “It’s our hope that Swiss companies operating in the U.S. will help lead the way by setting the best examples for other U.S. businesses to participate in apprenticeships. The many opportunities apprenticeships afford students are worth highlighting and expanding, and we’ll continue to do so.”

At the libs training center, where apprentices learn technical skills before they get training at a company, Secretary DeVos met students who showed her current projects they were working on.

On behalf of the Ambassador and U.S. Embassy Bern: Thank you for visiting, Madam Secretary! We look forward to continuing our bilateral cooperation on apprenticeships and vocational education with stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic.