According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, in the four-year period of the 2014 entry cohort, more than ten thousand apprenticeship contracts were terminated prematurely (one or more terminations), accounting for around one-fifth. This does not mean per se that the apprenticeship was completely abandoned, but can also simply mean a change of company. In any case, however, the number of apprenticeship contracts to be processed will increase many times over, not only for the training companies but above all for the responsible vocational education and training (VET/PET) offices with the additional contracts resulting from the dissolution of apprenticeship contracts. In order to support training companies and vocational training offices with this administrative work or – much better – even relieve them of the majority of the processing of apprenticeship contracts, automation with intelligent, AI-based OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is the necessary key.

The apprenticeship contract filled out by hand – a sign of hardly any technological progress…

Whether the apprenticeship contract is filled out and processed by hand or digitally often reflects the progress of the apprenticeship company. However, regardless of whether it is handwritten or electronically recorded, the completed apprenticeship contract must ultimately be printed out in physical form and actually sent in triplicate to the responsible vocational training office, where it is in turn checked and processed. In other words, the real work of apprenticeship contract processing is yet to come. The thousands of apprenticeship contracts received by the vocational training offices must now be checked by employees for completeness and the relevant data must be manually entered into a central system.

Involved with administrative nonsense

The fact that the apprenticeship contract is a special individual employment contract with some special provisions that need to be extracted, including, among others, legal representations, responsibility in the procurement of professional tools, and so on and so forth, is no excuse. Such peculiarities should not contribute to the fact that because of this now the processing of the apprenticeship contract must be handled in a special and particular way. Quite the contrary. The primary problem is quickly identified with manual processing. The enormous additional work for vocational training offices due to the manual work only unnecessarily disrupts any workflows in the public sector.

The pain points for all those involved in processing apprenticeship contracts have long been identified

Fields and checkboxes to be read out

One of the other peculiarities of apprenticeship contracts is the layout and the mix of fields to be filled in and at the same time a lot of checkboxes where a cross has to be placed if the field applies. So a solution is needed that can autonomously extract both handwritten and typed characters when needed.

Different formats, layouts, and the mix of checkboxes and fields pose no problem for intelligent, AI-based OCR

Intelligent, AI-based OCR gives VET office a helping hand

For a modern solution, you need something that can automatically recognize and process both handwritten and typed text, as well as ticked or clicked checkboxes. And that’s exactly what intelligent, AI-based OCR does. And it does it from A to Z. The OCR solution automatically recognizes all relevant data from the fields and checkboxes. This is followed seamlessly by quality enhancement (including page separation), the documents are classified and finally extracted automatically. The intelligent, AI-based OCR manages to output all relevant data from the apprenticeship contracts in a structured manner within a very short time so that they can in turn be automatically forwarded to the next responsible person.

Thanks to the intelligent, AI-based OCR, the extraction quality from the apprenticeship contracts is constantly improving – the more apprenticeship contracts, formats and variations, the better the extraction quality will be

An overview of the added values

What the integration of intelligent, AI-based OCR means in concrete terms for added value for employees in the vocational training offices thus quickly becomes apparent:

  • Timely processing of apprenticeship contracts through automated data capture and extraction
  • Elimination of tedious tasks, such as manual checking and typing of data
  • The appreciation of employees is increased by gaining time resources, which in turn allows concentration on more valuable work

For vocational education offices, which have to process a huge amount of new apprenticeship contracts every year (and each one is received in triplicate…), the integration of intelligent, AI-based OCR into their workflow is an enormous relief. On the one hand, the same and thus extremely boring work is finally eliminated, and on the other hand, significant process optimizations are possible.