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‘In Switzerland, around 30% of welfare recipients have insufficient basic skills. Approximately half of all welfare recipients between the ages of 25 and 64 have no professional qualification at all.’

The Swiss Conference for Social Welfare (SKOS) is the national professional association for social aid and welfare and is responsible in Switzerland for issuing guidelines, frameworks, and position papers and monitoring social services, amongst other things. As there is no federal legislation on social welfare, the recommendations of SKOS have an important role for the 26 Swiss cantons.

We spoke to Corinne Hutmacher-Perret, Acting General Secretary at SKOS. She told us about their further education programme which aims to offer people with little or no qualifications who rely on social assistance the opportunity to continue their education according to their individual requirements and ambitions. In Switzerland, around 30% of welfare recipients have insufficient basic skills. Approximately half of all welfare recipients between the ages of 25 and 64 have no professional qualification at all.

Today, low-skilled labour is being outsourced to cheaper locations and what remains in Switzerland are highly-skilled jobs. In the context of a declining demand for low-skilled labour, SKOS’s programme provides the support for social assistance recipients to take the first step towards attaining a professional qualification and eventually becoming financially independent. By the middle of 2022, 40 social service providers will be participating.

We asked Corinne how ESN has supported her organisation in learning from others and she told us:

“Since 2010 we have taken part in the ESN Conferences. The information in the speeches and workshops are very important for us. They regularly confirm the themes and issues we deal with. It is always encouraging to hear that within the international social professions, concerns are similar, even though the national organization of welfare may not be comparable. Furthermore, in addition to the lectures and workshops, the discussions offer the opportunity to get in touch with other professionals and learn from their experiences. Membership in ESN is important for SKOS. It provides a valuable platform for exchange and mutual learning”.