Cooperation between Switzerland and Mexico in vocational education and training: positive assessment, encouraging prospects

Ambassador Mauro Moruzzi, SERI’s head of international relations, was in Mexico from 18 to 21 June to hold talks with the new Mexican authorities on cooperation between Switzerland and Mexico in the field of vocational education and training, research and innovation. There he met directors of some Swiss companies in Mexico, which offer training, as well as Minister of Labour Luisa María Alcalde Luján and Deputy Minister of Public Education Juan Pablo Arroyo Ortiz, with whom he discussed the fruits of the three-year cooperation period launched in 2016. Ambassador Moruzzi also represented Switzerland at the fourth Pacific Alliance Youth Summit, where he met high-level officials in research and innovation, from the federal government and Mexico City.

In 2016 Switzerland and Mexico signed a Letter of Intent setting out the various collaborative activities in vocational education and training that the parties intended to pursue over the following three years.

About ten Swiss companies operating in Mexico committed to setting up apprenticeship programmes as part of the Swiss Alliance for Dual Education initiative spearheaded by the Swiss-Mexican Chamber of Commerce. In recent years Mexico has also introduced major reforms to offer in-company training programmes.

At a ’wrap-up’ roundtable to mark Ambassador Moruzzi’s visit, members of the Swiss Alliance for Dual Education discussed the favourable outcomes of the past three years and expressed their readiness to promote their dual education programmes in partnership with the Mexican government.

These conclusions were the key focus of discussions between Ambassador Moruzzi and Juan Pablo Arroyo Ortiz, Deputy Minister of Public Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública SEP). The two parties welcomed the close dialogue between SERI and SEP and agreed to pursue cooperative activities. They highlighted the importance of Swiss companies, represented by the Swiss-Mexican Chamber of Commerce, in promoting dual education in Mexico.

These issues were also discussed with Secretary of Labour Luisa María Alcalde Luján, who presented the youth employment priorities of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s new Mexican government. In particular, she gave an initial assessment of a vast programme launched in late 2018 to integrate the many young Mexicans into the labour market. At the meeting the linkages of this new programme with the dual education programme were described; the programme itself does not have a strictly educational dimension. The advantages of the Swiss model, some elements of which could be adopted in the context of the Mexican reforms, were also explained.

Ambassador Moruzzi was asked by the Mexican government to represent Switzerland, the only third country invited, at the opening day of the fourth Pacific Alliance Youth Summit. Organised jointly by the four Alliance countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) and Nestlé, each year this summit brings together more than 1000 young people in vocational education and training from the countries of the Pacific Alliance.

Furthermore, as part of bilateral collaboration in the field of research and innovation, Ambassador Moruzzi met with representatives of the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACyT) and with Mexico City’s Minister of Science, Rosaura Ruiz Gutiérrez, to identify ways of extending cooperation between researchers and institutions in the two countries over the coming years.

Finally, Ambassador Moruzzi met with two directors general of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With Efraín Guadarrama Pérez, head of relations with the Pacific Alliance, he discussed the continuation of dialogue between the Alliance and Switzerland, an observer state, on the themes of vocational training and innovation. With the director general responsible for Europe, Bernardo Aguilar, Ambassador Moruzzi addressed the opportunities for cooperation in the field of innovation, which is a priority of the new Mexican presidency. The activities of the swissnex network were also discussed.

Mexico, whose 126 million inhabitants make it the tenth most populous country in the world, is a member of the G20 and the OECD, and as such an important political and economic partner for Switzerland. It is Switzerland’s second largest export market in Latin America and Swiss companies based in Mexico employ more than 36,500 people. In addition, Switzerland and Mexico cooperate under the auspices of the Pacific Alliance (comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), of which Switzerland has been an observer state since 2013; vocational education and training and innovation are focal topics of this cooperation.

Cooperation with Mexico in the ERI field is relatively strong, though less so than that with other Latin American countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. 132 Mexican researchers have received a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship since 1963. Between 2014 and spring 2019, the Swiss National Science Foundation funded 25 research projects by Swiss researchers working with Mexican colleagues in the disciplines human and social sciences; biology and medicine; and mathematics and engineering.

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