Friday Dec 1, 2017

"Swiss Vocational Education and Training System"

Suzi and Eric LeVine

Past United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein / Entrepreneur

Introduced by: Adam Mihlstin

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Our guest speakers are Suzi and Eric LeVine.  Suzi, appointed by President Obama was the most recent Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein.  While representing the U.S., both Suzi and Eric worked closely with local Swiss government officials and the business community to learn about Switzerland’s top-rated apprenticeship program.  They are currently going around the U.S. to talk about what they learned and share ideas on how to boost employment. 

At more than $80,000, Switzerland’s per capita income is the 3rd highest in Europe and the 4th highest in the world. Switzerland is home to one of the world’s most innovative economies and its unemployment rate rests comfortably below 4 percent. All of this in a nation that produces comparatively few university graduates.  In an era marked by increasing competition, automation, and globalization, what is the secret to Switzerland’s success? According to a new report from researchers at the Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB) of the U.S.-based National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), Switzerland’s vocational education and training (VET) system, one of the strongest in the world, is a very important contributor to that country’s economic success. While representing the United States and based in Switzerland, the LeVines learned first-hand the benefits of this system and how it could benefit workers throughout the U.S.  They’ll deliver remarks about their work as self-described “evangelists of apprenticeship”.  Suzi and Eric are convinced that there are many pathways to success, and that an “Apprenticeship Renaissance,” as they call it, is a key to the long-term economic growth in the United States and a key to more people than ever achieving their American Dream.

About the Speaker

Suzan "Suzi" LeVine was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein on May 30, 2014. She took up her position in Bern on June 2, 2014. LeVine took her oath of office while placing a hand on a Kindle and thereby became the first U.S. official to be sworn in on an e-reader. She resigned her post in Bern on January 20, 2017. Suzi’s diverse and non-linear career focusing on education, technology, community, innovation, travel, social responsibility, and youth outreach was good training for her role as Ambassador. In a professional capacity, Suzi worked at Microsoft as a Director and at Expedia as a Vice President. Twice during her career, she was a stay-at-home mom, during which time she co-founded two non-profit organizations – an innovative Jewish community model, The Kavana Cooperative, and an advisory board for an early learning research institute at the University of Washington, ILABS – the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. Suzi is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering with aerospace applications. She and her husband have two children, with whom they enjoy hiking, biking, traveling and playing with their dog.

Eric A. LeVine is an entrepreneur based in Seattle. He has been the founder and CEO of CellarTracker since 2003. Eric spent most of his early career at Microsoft, moving from marketing to product planning and program management. In 2005, he formally retired from Microsoft to follow his entrepreneurial vision to create a software solution for wine enthusiasts. He has also been a Council Member at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since September, 2016. Eric grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard College and received a degree in History in 1991. CellarTracker has grown to become the leading cellar management tool with hundreds of thousands of collectors tracking more than 60 million bottles. Since 2014, Eric has served alongside his wife, representing the U.S. in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. His days continue to be filled with the attention to his business venture, ongoing philanthropic work and caring for the couple’s two children.