Does stopping the combustion engine also signal the end of the dream job?

What impact does the EU decision to stop combustion engines have on young professionals who were considering a ‘mechanic’ apprenticeship?

Swiss skills


From 2035, new cars with a petrol or diesel engine will no longer be authorized in Europe. Whether Switzerland will agree to this decision to stop combustion engines is unclear at this point. But what impact does this have on young professionals who considered learning to be “mechanical”?

Question from a “20 minute” reader

For years my son has been passionate about anything with a motor. He intended to start an apprenticeship as a “mechanic” next year. However, last week in Strasbourg, the European Parliament decided that there would be no more combustion engine cars from 2035 onwards. Should I be concerned that my son will have to reorient himself soon after his apprenticeship? Does work still have a future for motor enthusiasts?

Reply from UPSA’s Olivier Maeder*

You don’t have to worry despite this decision. The profession of “mechanic” has evolved rapidly in recent years, as has automotive technology itself. UPSA, as a sectoral and professional association, ensures that trainees and qualified professionals have the necessary know-how and are always at the forefront of technology, including with regard to propulsion alternatives. We currently offer three basic technical training courses: AFP Automotive Maintenance Assistant (2 years), Automotive Maintenance Mechanic (3 years) and Automotive Mechatronics Technician (4 years). The skills taught by training companies and vocational schools within the scope of these training courses are regularly reviewed and adapted to current and future needs. The same applies to higher vocational training and the numerous opportunities for continuous training.

Even if the European Parliament does not want to authorize new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, combustion engine vehicles still purchased in 2034 will need maintenance for some time. It is also unclear whether and how Switzerland will support this decision. One thing is certain: in the area of ​​our initial and continuing training, the necessary skills for electromobility are already taught. Your child can therefore start their learning without hesitation next year. Because the automotive trades have a future, thanks to training adapted to the market.

Automotive mechatronics apprentices acquire the necessary skills. They are already learning to repair, maintain and diagnose electric, hybrid and alternative propulsion concepts.

Olivier Maeder, UPSA

For example, since the entry into force of the training ordinance in 2018, apprentice car mechatronics technicians have already acquired the necessary skills. They learn to repair, maintain and diagnose electric, hybrid and alternative propulsion concepts. They also acquire skills in the field of driver assistance systems. Recently, the courses “High Voltage 1” and “High Voltage 2” were also included in the basic training of vehicle maintenance mechanics. Young professionals are made aware of the safe use of high voltage technology as early as possible. The sector is well prepared for the increase in the market share of electric vehicles, but it does not forget about combustion engines and the necessary skills for this. Also for customer advice, the new basic training courses for the CFC retail manager “Car sales” and “Car after-sales” which will start this summer will also be taught accordingly.

As head of training for the Swiss Professional Automobile Union, I am naturally pleased that your engine-loving son is interested in a job in our industry. The automotive sector really needs young professionals who are motivated and willing to progress in life. And work in the automotive sector will continue to offer good prospects – whatever policy decisions are made – with interesting and attractive possibilities for development and promotion.

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*The Swiss Professional Automobile Association (UPSA) is the association of Swiss mechanics. Around 4,000 companies with a total of 39,000 employees (including 9,000 young people in initial and continuing education) ensure that we can travel reliably, safely and eco-efficiently. The team of experts who will answer your questions is made up of: Markus Aegerter (Trade and Services), Olivier Maeder (Training), Markus Peter (Technical and Environment) and UPSA lawyer Olivia Solari (Law).

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