Events - 05.11.2014 - 00:00 

Swiss keys to success

State Secretary Mauro Dell’Ambrogio was a guest at the PIM Conference in the HSG’s Audimax. He spoke about factors of education policy and of other matters that make Switzerland successful.
Source: HSG Newsroom


4 November 2014. Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, outlined the picture of a pragmatic and open Switzerland to guests from all over the world. Among the essential cornerstones of success, he mentioned this country’s efficient social partnerships, the good relations between employees and employers, and the fact that with three per cent of its gross domestic product, Switzerland invests a comparatively large amount in research and development, with two thirds of these investments deriving from private sources.

The dual recipe for success

Dell’Ambrogio’s comments on Switzerland’s dual education and training system attracted a particularly great degree of interest among the international university representatives at the 41st Conference of the Partnership in International Management (PIM). Owing to vocational training, this system results in very practical qualifications in fields in which trade and industry do indeed require employees. Then again, the dual system entails that Switzerland has no so-called mass universities but that teaching and research at university level are among the best in the world. Among the recipes for success for the universities, the State Secretary mentioned the government monies, for a large part of which the universities have to compete: a liberal (university) system, then, whose basic funding comes from the state but in which competition plays a role at the same time, as HSG President Thomas Bieger summed it up.

No master plans

Mauro Dell’Ambrogio also focused on what Switzerland, which is very successful in an international comparison, did not do: it did not draw up any innovation strategies or master plans, nor was there any public funding of start-ups. It was things like a good infrastructure, the educational system and an efficient administration which provided the basis for Switzerland’s innovative power. The concept of the “survival of the fittest” had always worked very well in this country, which is why it was not surprising that there are a great number of Swiss firms which excel at holding their ground in international competition.

Convincing the voting public

Thus on the one hand, it is a political and economic pragmatism which characterises Switzerland and has made it successful. On the other hand, there is the traditional openness, which, however, is under political fire at the ballot box at present. Mauro Dell’Ambrogio pointed to the immense importance of foreign nationals in this country, who account for 40 per cent of employees in research and development, for instance, and even up to 50 per cent in industries like pharmaceuticals and food technology. Switzerland had always managed to attract brilliant brains from all over the world. This openness was key to this country’s success. These days, the point was to convince the voting public that this time-tested openness must be preserved.