Everybody gains by training apprentices
Vocational Education and Training (VET) is an important pillar of the Swiss Economy and standard direct route into qualified employment for two thirds of young people. Companies are significant partners of the Swiss VET system. Up to 40 % of companies capable of training invest in their future personnel by offering apprenticeships. The ones that opt for this strategy in human resource development profit on micro and macro level: apprentices are productive staff members – competing companies profit from good economic framework conditions that are substantially supported by the Swiss education system.
After compulsory education the majority of young people in Switzerland choose an apprenticeship as a starting point of their professional career. At the same time apprentices fulfil the final chapter of their general education on upper secondary level. Apprenticeships typically lead to a Federal VET Diploma and the according VET-programmes predominantly follow the dual track model. Apprentices spend 3–4 days a week in real-time skill training in a company and during 1–2 days a week they receive classroom-instruction as well as teaching in general education at school. In addition, apprentices attend inter-company courses, in which they enhance vocational practical skills. The in-company training has many advantages: graduates quickly meet the demands of the employer, apprentices are productive and the practical relevance of their activities motivates young people to learn. Also they get an early sense of achievement and career progression.
The provision of vocational and professional education and training is a mission shouldered by the Confederation, the cantons and professional organizations. These three partners are jointly committed to the highest possible standard of VET and also professional education and training (PET). They also strive to ensure the availability of an adequate number of apprenticeships and continuing education and training courses. Trade associations determine training content and national qualification procedures. They also organize VET and PET courses. This results in education standards that respond to the needs of the labour market.
Permeability of the education system
There are many pathways for VET graduates (professionals) to become a specialist through further tertiary education at all levels (professional education and training PET, Universities of applied sciences and conventional universities). The guiding principle is that wherever someone enters the education system, she or he is able to continue his education or training path. There are VET-programmes for some 230 different professions. Holders of a Federal VET Diploma who have gained several years of professional experience can start PET-programmes. PET-programmes prepare experienced professionals for highly specialized or managerial positions. Students enrolled in PET-programmes gain extensive knowledge and skills that are directly linked to the labor market. For this reason, PET credentials are highly valued and sought for by employers. With a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate (FVB) in addition, VET graduates are entitled to enrol in universities of applied sciences. FVB holders may also enrol in conventional universities if they pass the University Aptitude Test.
To sum up the Swiss education system offers a broad spectrum of practical training programmes as well as different academic courses. Both ways provide skills and knowledge up to tertiary level. At several levels it is possible to switch between them. This systemic permeability allows for life-long learning as well as for excellence both on the professional as well as the academic level. A mix of skills and grades corresponds to the needs of the labour market and supplies it with well-qualified specialists across the whole value chain.
Facts and figures
- Enrolment in upper-secondary level
- VET by linguistic region
- Percentage of VET graduates who also obtained an FVB
- PET qualifications
- Tertiary-level qualifications by economic branch
«Vocational and professional education and training: Everyone benefits» as print version or PDF-Download
«Vocational and professional education and training in Switzerland – facts and figures» as print version or PDF-Download:
«Professional education and Training – Facts and figures» as print version or PDF-Download.