«To me, a sound education is very important!»

Jan Reist has been playing ice hockey since he was six. Ten years later, he had made it to the elite junior team of EHC Basel and received a «Swiss Olympic Talent Card», which is given to talented players considered to merit special support. Last summer he started an apprenticeship in IT at Bell. In the interview, he and Andreas Begré, Head of Vocational Training at Bell Switzerland, explain how an apprenticeship can be compatible with competitive sport.

Mr. Begré, how did you come to take on Mr. Reist,a young competitive athlete, as a trainee?

We have been nurturing the idea of supporting talented athletes with educational opportunities for quite some time. For us, being a large company, this is part of our social responsibility toward society. This wish has come true with Jan Reist, although rather unexpectedly, for at the job interview he didn't tell us anything about the extent of his commitment to sport.

What kept you from doing that, Mr. Reist? 

First of all, it was important for me to receive proper vocational training. Sports came second. That's why I didn't mention it in my application. We agreed after I was accepted that I can continue to play and practise.

Mr. Begré, did you have to make any special arrangements for Mr. Reist's recruitment? 

We talked to his parents, his coach and the sports department in advance to establish the key points. After that we made a supplementary agreement in addition to the apprenticeship contract. This stipulates, for example, that Jan is free to go to training on Tuesday mornings.

How do you deal with the dual burden of education and competitive sport, Mr. Reist? 

It can be very strenuous. There are times when I feel like going home after work to spend time with my friends. But it's also a lot of fun. What's great above all is that all my colleagues are very kind and helpful when I’m under pressure for time. Right from the start I felt I was in good hands - even though I'm the youngest member of the team at 16.

Mr. Begré, how would you sum up the first six months since his training started? 

We have all been very surprised at how well and quickly Jan has become integrated in our team. I believe he brings a lot of skills from sport that are also important in the workplace. For example, he is very well organised in his work and knows that you have to be committed if you want to be successful. Furthermore, you can tell straight away that he is an ideal team player. 

Mr. Begré, does Bell offer training opportunities for competitive athletes in every professional field? 

Implementation is definitely easier in the administrative area, as the flexitime system gives us more leeway in terms of working hours.

Mr. Reist, what is your greatest athletic goal?

It would be great for me to play in the National League at some point.

And what would happen if Mr. Reist could indeed take part in the Olympic Games with the national team, Mr. Begré?

In that was the case we would be very happy and pledge our support to make certain that his training won't suffer.

Bell is a «competitive sports-friendly apprenticeship facility»

The fact that Jan Reist is a promising young hockey player is proven by the «Swiss Olympic Talent Card», which he has held since August last year. It is awarded to talented athletes by «Swiss Olympic», the umbrella organisation of Swiss Sport and the National Olympic Committee. The card shows communities,schools and potential employers that the holder is particularly worthy of support with regard to a successful athletic career. Companies such as Bell, providing apprenticeships for such talents, help them to build a professional foothold in addition to their athletic career. «Swiss Olympic» has launched the label «Competitive sports-friendly apprenticeship facility» for them. Whoever carries it must meet various requirements. For example, a flexible program that allows athletes to adapt their working hours to their athletic training programme and competitions schedule. Incidentally, Bell already had experience in employing competitive athletes before hiring the young hockey player. Professional bobsledder Simon Friedli has been working as a chef in the staff restaurant in Oensingen for two years. Thanks to this, Bell has received the «Competitive sports friendly employer» seal of approval, which is also awarded by «Swiss Olympic».