From Indy to Zurich 

  • Lauren Dodrill
  • December 8, 2023

Exploring the Swiss Youth Apprenticeship System: A Transformative Experience at LEX 2023

I had the distinct honor of being part of the 2023 Indy Chamber LEX (Leadership Exchange) delegation to Zurich, Switzerland. This year’s LEX trip, which took place from September 16 to 21, brought together a remarkable assembly of individuals, including Indy Chamber board members, corporate, education, and legislative leaders. It was an incredible opportunity to spend a week with friends and local community leaders, engaging in discussions about the challenges we can address collectively.

LEX is a unique initiative that allows participants to deeply immerse themselves in the economic infrastructure of major metropolitan regions. Our destination this year was Zurich, where we delved into Switzerland’s Apprenticeship Model, a system that has set a global standard for talent development. This tri-part structure of business, education, and government has yielded an impressive 70 percent of high school students embarking on 3- or 4-year apprenticeships, starting at the age as young as 13. These apprenticeships span various industries, from life sciences to telecommunications to advanced manufacturing.

In a whirlwind week, I had the opportunity to shadow young apprentices working at multiple companies across Zurich. One striking observation was hearing their stories, especially from those who had experienced both the American and Swiss education systems. They noted the stark difference, with apprentices in Switzerland gaining valuable real-life experience and earning salaries, while many of their American friends were stuck in classrooms.

Central Indiana is currently grappling with talent shortages and skills mismatches, and the lessons learned from Switzerland have the potential to reshape our approach. The goal of our LEX trip was to explore the youth apprenticeship system through the lens of employers and bring these insights back to our community to bolster the existing pilot programs. We are determined to develop a long-term, systemic solution for the talent pipeline in the Indy region, where the Indy Chamber has placed a strong emphasis on “Talent” as one of the four pillars of our Accelerate Indy regional strategic plan.

I’m incredibly honored to have been selected for this transformative journey, and I’m excited to apply the knowledge gained in Switzerland to help empower our community. For a visual glimpse into this remarkable experience, please check out my photos from the trip below.

Posted in Company, General