When apprentices become the teachers for the day

Normally Swiss Post’s apprentices are the ones doing the learning. Yet there are areas where, despite their youth, they actually have more expertise than even skilled employees. Swiss Post wants to tap into this more. A pilot project on intergenerational learning shows us how it’s done.

Lea Zoss

Rich Content Section

Group picture of the participants

We head to French-speaking Switzerland and watch the “Upskilling pilot project” as it draws to a close. Upskilling is a term that refers to the acquisition of additional or brand new skills. In this instance, Swiss Post apprentices share their ICT knowledge with staff who don’t yet have much expertise in this area. The courses ran over the last six months in the letter center in Eclépens, a small municipality in the canton of Vaud. The last day of the course is dedicated to the final presentations, where the course participants present what they’ve learnt. The apprentices meet the participants one more time as course tutors and exchange ideas in an informal gathering of different generations. The apprentices are supported in their roles as teachers by the Powercoders. The training experts of this non-profit organization came up with the training programme on behalf of Swiss Post and helped the apprentices make it a reality. Powercoders offer an IT training and work integration programme for people with a refugee or migration background.

An apprentice explaining something to one of the participants The two of them looking at a notebook

There is always more to learn

Back to the final presentations: the ten course participants have all prepared a presentation that they are now giving. They are able to showcase everything they learnt on the course about Word, Excel, Powerpoint and more. The presentations cover a range of topics, from Guatemala to Belgrade, and this Monday morning we’ve been on a virtual trip to Mauritius. Letter center manager Pierre Albertelli is also proud of his staff: “It’s great to see how dedicated you all are and what you’ve learnt!”

The audience applauding

A win-win situation

The certificate presentation ceremony is the highlight of the day. The course participants are relieved, but above all proud of what they’ve achieved. However, it’s not only the course participants who have a reason to feel proud, the apprentices too were able to gain valuable experience and feel a sense of satisfaction. “A few weeks ago, writing an e-mail was a challenge for some of the people here, and yet they have gone on to give a presentation in front of everyone present here today! That is quite remarkable, and the highlight for me personally,” says Joel Volet, an apprentice with PostBus in Sion.

Two apprentices in conversation

“We were able to make a big impact”

One thing is certain: this upskilling project was a success for everyone involved. The Powercoders, too, came away feeling very happy. Here’s what Bettina Hirsig, CEO of the Powercoders, had to say: “I think we were able to do an awful lot here, and we hope to see more courses like it for staff.” And what can we take away from this project?

Intergenerational learning really does work: whether young or old, digitally savvy or not, we can all learn a great deal from each other.

Group picture of the participants

written by

Lea Zoss