Nathan Gruber in the supermarket


Everyone on an equal footing

It is not easy to find a job when you have learning difficulties and problems integrating within the world of work. In collaboration with the Le Repuis foundation, Migros Vaud is doing everything to ensure that young people like Nathan Gruber are not left behind.

Pierre Wuthrich
What we do

Nathan Gruber is 19 years old and since August 2023, he has been working as an apprentice retail manager at MMM in Crissier (canton of Vaud). “I stack shelves, manage stock and respond to different customer requests,” explains the young man from Vaud. And although he wears the Migros uniform and badge, Nathan Gruber is not a Migros Vaud employee. Instead, he is – as he calls himself – a “Repuis apprentice”. This means that Nathan is under contract with the Le Repuis specialist vocational training centre based in Grandson (canton of Vaud), whose main client is Assurance-invalidité (or AI), Switzerland’s Disability Insurance. Although keen and determined, Nathan sometimes finds it difficult to navigate relationships and managing his emotions. “For example, I don’t like when something unexpected happens during the day. If my lunch break is moved or if I suddenly have to go to work in another department without any advance warning, I get stressed out and I can end up being too direct with my supervisors. Yet I also know how to acknowledge my mistakes, especially during feedback sessions.”

We aim to maximise the employability of these apprentices.

Nicole Léchaire, Social and Vocational Instructor

To help with this, Nathan can count on the support of Nicole Léchaire. Nicole is a social and vocational instructor who is both employed by Le Repuis and permanently on hand in the supermarket. “The aim for Nathan is to be able to perform the same tasks at the same pace as Migros Vaud apprentices on the sales floor. I therefore take care of reformulating any instructions from department managers that may have been misunderstood. while also ensuring that work and instructions are being performed as requested. Above all, I take the time to discuss each situation, which is something that can be really helpful,” explains the instructor from Vaud, who also occasionally plays the role of big sister and confidante.

Eradicating differences

At Migros Crissier alone, Nicole supervises a team of seven Repuis apprentices. In total, between 25 and 30 young people with learning difficulties are employed in four of the Vaud cooperative’s stores. “We aim to maximise employability and to open the doors to certified or uncertified training courses in a range of different professions,” explains the instructor. The programme has had great results: over 90% of young people with Le Repuis stay to the end, with 70% going on to find a job.

The secret to this success lies in Le Repuis’s commitment to providing employment conditions which are as realistic as they are possible. Migros supermarkets offer great opportunities in this sense, as Repuis apprentices are confronted with exactly the same problems as their Migros Vaud colleagues. There is also a geunine desire to eradicate differences. As we have seen, this does mean wearing uniforms, but it also extends to taking part in welcome days and preparing for exams. End-of-programme celebrations also, rather clearly, take place together. “Every day, apprentices mingle with one another and take their breaks according to their own interests rather than who their employer is,” enthuses Nicole Léchaire.

Added value for all

Migros Vaud is delighted to be able to welcome Repuis apprentices at its stores. “This mix provides an enriching experience for everyone. Migros employees see young people who are motivated and keen to find their place in the job market. This, in turn, spurs them on. And what’s more, everyone wants to support them and help them to succeed. So maybe there’s more solidarity here than in other parts,” says Ariane Dupuis Moret, one of the two Young Talent specialists supporting the some 200 Migros Vaud apprentices.

As a result, Nathan Gruber is working in a practical and caring environment, and hopes to earn his Federal Diploma of Vocational Education and Training (CFC) in the near future. Nathan will then be able to apply for a job in an electronics store, where he could get the chance to sell Apple products, which he knows inside out. Nathan has talent: it is just a matter of helping him get off the ground. This is what Le Repuis and Migros Vaud are striving to achieve.