The Swiss-South African Cooperation Initiative is a public-private partnership in development aimed at strengthening the public skills training system in South Africa and thereby opening up new pathways to skilled employment for young South Africans.

Since its inception in 2001, SSACI has brought over R100-million to skills development for South African youths and provided apprenticeships, internships and practical work experience for thousands of trainees and college students.


SSACI follows a three-pronged strategy of:

•     Providing policy and programmatic support to the national Department of Higher Education and Training and its related institutions, such as technical and
      vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs)
•     Initiating and managing technical and vocational training projects that lead unskilled, unemployed young people into skilled employment
•     Developing young entrepreneurs and their businesses

Activities and Results

SSACI has:
•    Enrolled over 5’000 youths in technical training programmes and placed over 4’000 graduates of these programmes in permanent, skilled employment
•    Created over 1’300 entirely new jobs through small business development
•    Developed new national qualifications and training programmes in agriculture, construction, early childhood development, engineering, hospitality and
•    Produced manuals and handbooks on implementing college-industry partnerships, workplace experience for college lecturers and students and technical
     skills training for out-of-school youths, mentoring young entrepreneurs, as well as research reports into the state of entrepreneurship in South Africa
•    Established internship programmes for college graduates and workplace experience programmes for college students
•    Implemented accelerated apprenticeships in small-to-medium sized enterprises

SSACI’s work has contributed to better national training policies and systems, including:

•     Incorporation of work experience into all TVET college programmes
•     Improvements to the design and funding formula of artisanal apprenticeships
•     Establishment of a national artisan database and tracking-system for apprentice


SSACI’s implementation partners include government departments, TVET colleges, SETAs, universities, private-sector companies and NGOs. SSACI has been funded by the Swiss and South African governments, foundations and private-sector companies such as ABB, AfriSam, Bühler, Ciba, Clariant, Credit Suisse, Hilti, Novartis, Schindler, Swiss Re, Tevrida, UBS and Xstrata.


SSACI has been evaluated five times by independent Swiss and South African researchers. All their reports were overwhelmingly favourable. Key findings were that SSACI has been a highly successful initiative owing to its:

•    Focus on a single issue of national importance, namely skills training for employment
•    Results-driven programme that measures success by the number of youths trained and employed
•    Innovative approach
•    Lean and efficient management