According to the Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act, the cantons are to take measures for adolescents with individual educational deficits at the end of compulsory education, so as to prepare them for vocational education and training (VET). For young people who, after completing lower-secondary education, cannot immediately commence vocational education and training (VET) or go on to enrol in a school offering general upper-secondary education, bridge-year courses are offered as interim solutions.
The aim of these bridge-year courses is to support young people in choosing a career, to help them to integrate into the working world, and to prepare them for entry in vocational education and training (VET) or in schools offering general upper-secondary education. Bridge-year courses improve key skills and close individual educational and knowledge gaps. They are voluntary and may entail costs. Bridge-year courses have specific admission procedures and usually last up to a year.
There are a various models for bridge-year courses, e.g.:
school courses: provision of general education without a practical component.
integrative bridge-year courses: teaching for adolescents who are native speakers of foreign languages, with particular emphasis on learning a national language and integration into social life, sometimes with traineeships.
pre-apprenticeships: practical activity at a company, combined with a school courses.
preparatory courses for particular education programmes, e.g. preparatory course for studies in art and design.