For a better path to the middle class for many students — and a great recruiting pipeline for companies — U.S. education policymakers should consider the business apprenticeship model popular in Switzerland, Scott Laband, president of Colorado Succeeds, writes for Marketwatch. Students in Switzerland can choose apprenticeships in banking or technology as a fast-track into prestigious, high-paying careers. Read more in Scott’s op-ed below.

The American Dream is just that — a dream — for many young people in the U.S. today.

As some presidential candidates have noted, particularly as they try to court younger voters, college-loan indebtedness and a skills gap are blocking many young Americans from reaching the middle class.

Students are graduating with massive debts, parents can’t get their adult kids up and out of their basements, and businesses are frustrated about the skill sets of the workforce coming out of today’s schools.

While the presidential debate focuses on how to handle student-loan indebtedness and whether college could be offered for free, another model — which is working well in Switzerland — should be considered.

Students in Switzerland have a much easier path to the middle class. Yes, college is nearly free, and many would argue that model could be hard to duplicate in the U.S. But another big factor is that small nation’s dependence on business apprenticeships as an alternative to a four-year college degree.

Notably, the program is not modeled after the American-style high school trades or community college curriculums to start a blue-collar job in, say, welding or plumbing, although classes and careers in those fields can be selected. Instead, it’s a fast-track into prestigious, high-paying careers in areas such as technology — everything from graphics software, video-game design and advanced computer programming. They are white-collar jobs.

This piece originally appeared on Marketwatch. Click here to read the entire piece.

photo of
Scott Laband