Swiss State Secretary Martina Hirayama receives Australian Minister for Skills and Training

Bern, 15.06.2023

On June 15, 2023, Martina Hirayama, Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, met with Brendan O’Connor, the Australian Minister for Skills and Training, to discuss vocational education and training in Switzerland and Australia. The two countries enjoy very good relations in the areas of education and research.

Swiss State Secretary Martina Hirayama

The talks between Martina Hirayama and Brendan O’Connor focused on professional education and training, the promotion of women in traditionally male-dominated professions and capacity building, especially in the field of clean energy. They also addressed the question of how to boost the appeal of vocational education and training. Mr O’Connor’s visit was part of his participation in the International Labour Conference (ILO). Before and after the exchange at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the minister visited the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) as well as a number of businesses to gain a better insight into Switzerland’s system of vocational education and training.


Brendan O’Connor, Australian Minister for Skills and Training

Switzerland and Australia enjoy very good relations in the areas of education and research. In the field of education, Australia is an attractive destination for apprentices and students to learn English. Thanks to the stagiaire agreement between Switzerland and Australia, young professionals from Switzerland can improve their professional and language skills while gaining work experience in Australia. Since January 2022, it has also been possible for Swiss nationals between the ages of 18 and 30 to participate in Australia’s Working Holiday Maker Programme.

In terms of research cooperation, Australia is one of Switzerland’s most important partners outside Europe. In 2013, Switzerland and Australia concluded a Memorandum of Understanding to promote cooperation in science, research and innovation. There are frequent exchanges and many direct cooperation arrangements between researchers and universities in the two countries. Between 2018 and 2022, Swiss researchers from around 650 projects reported working with Australian partners as part of Swiss National Science Foundation projects. Since 1963, around 120 Australian researchers and artists have also been granted a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship.

Switzerland has a Science and Technology Office in Canberra, which helps to deepen cooperation between the two countries as part of its global network for education, research and innovation. For its part, Australia reopened its embassy in Bern in November 2022 after a break of 30 years in part to strengthen bilateral relations in the ERI sector.