Conference paper Open Access

Training Agencies as Intermediary Institutions in Apprentice Training in Norway and Switzerland: General Purpose or Niche Production Tools?

Høst, Håkon; Michelsen, Svein; Leemann, Regula Julia; Imdorf, Christian

Nägele, Christof; Stalder, Barbara E.

Norway and Switzerland have both introduced training agencies (TA), local intermediary organizations of employers, which attend to the needs of firms involved in apprentice training. The starting point for the formation of TA in the two countries was roughly similar: They were considered in terms of building new structures that enabled more firms to participate in apprentice training. However, TA have developed differently in the two countries. In Switzerland, only 2- 3 percent of apprenticeship contracts are concluded within a training agency, and the development has stagnated. In Norway, 80 percent of the apprenticeships are organized through training agencies. How can this difference in outcome be explained? The paper finds that the two national VET systems and their development paths provide different habitats for the development of TAs as intermediary institutions, and that the TA in Norway and Switzerland have developed different profiles. The Norwegian TA are low cost, they do not intervene in firm autonomy, and have succeeded in balancing the logic of membership with the logic of influence. The Swiss TAs are high cost and challenge firm autonomy in decisions on recruitment and rotation of apprentices. While the Norwegian TA have developed into general purpose tools, the Swiss have evolved into a niche for a small selection of firms with special requirements.

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