The industry feels neglected by the federal government. Instead of helping, the authorities are having problems teaching online. (Erich Bürgler)
The classroom remains closed, many providers are switching to teaching via video conference. Photo: Keystone
Restaurants, retailers, primary schools: they are all worthy of mention to the Federal Council at the media conferences. However, there is hardly a word about providers of further training courses. Schools for adults are important employers. Many are threatened in their existence.
Small vendors in particular run out of money because of the prescribed closure. Bernhard Grämiger, director of the Swiss Association for Continuing Education, raises the alarm: «Our members are hit as hard as the catering trade. Many providers will not survive without financial support from the federal government. » Closing the schools from March to May is a disaster for the industry. "Now would be the high season for further training." Loss compensation and support programs are needed. Many schools are small businesses. The industry mostly goes under in the discussions about the lockdown. The members of the association employ around 70,000 people.
Large schools are also hit hard by the crisis. The Migros club schools as market leaders had to interrupt over 4,000 courses or could not start at all. The second largest Swiss provider Ecap has more than half of its employees in short-time work. Managing director Guglielmo Bozzolini does not feel that Bern is taken seriously. «The important area of ??continuing education is forgotten by the Federal Council. It cannot be that the authorities say practically nothing about it. »
Instead of federal support, many authorities are stubborn, especially when converting classroom lessons to live courses via video conferencing. Providers such as Ecap run further training courses for immigrants and unemployed on behalf of the cantons. Many schools switched to online lessons after the forced closure.
But many officials do not trust the new offer. «We had cancellations from many authorities for distance learning courses in German. They are not convinced of it, »says Bozzolini. In the canton of Zurich, one had already had good experiences with online German lessons for refugees. The authorities need to rethink. "We are rarely allowed to conduct courses for the unemployed to determine our location online, although we would be prepared to do so." Most cantonal employment offices block.
The situation is similar in the area of ??training courses for apprentices. Schools require the approval of the individual cantons for this. After the lockdown, the specialist Berufsbildner.ch immediately bought screens, cameras and other aids to enable lessons with lecturers via video chat. However, whether this is recognized as equivalent to classroom instruction differs from canton to canton, says Simon Hausammann from Berufsbildner.ch. "The cantons of Zurich and Bern support learning at a distance, other cantons are very reserved." As reported by other parties, the canton of Aargau is closed.
Zurich residents want to open earlier
The schools for adult education are expected to remain closed until June. Not everyone wants to accept that. The umbrella organization of the Zurich Conference for Continuing Education wants to offer certain offers earlier. "We demand that the ban on classroom instruction for small groups of up to five participants be lifted before June 8th," says association president Romeo Regenass. This should also apply to all other courses and examinations where the federal health regulations can be complied with.
The numerous small private schools across Switzerland are particularly threatened by the Corona crisis. Often these are foundations or associations without large financial reserves. The industry expects massive losses not only for the duration of the closure. Even after that, it looks bleak. Many companies are hit by the crisis, they have to save - and this is often the first thing they do when training their employees.