Vocational education and training

Key terms: Vocational and professional education in Switzerland / Bridge-year courses / Case management (vocational education and training) / Mobility and exchange / Transition Lower - Upper secondary level / Governance of vocational and professional education and training / Validation of non-formal and informal learning / Occupational, educational and career guidance

In Switzerland the majority of adolescents commence vocational education and training (VET) after lower-secondary education. There are VET programmes for some 230 different professions. In Switzerland, many professional qualifications are obtained in upper-secondary education, while in other countries the same qualifications are obtained in tertiary level education. The Swiss system with its dual-track VET programmes (apprenticeship) differs from most foreign systems of vocational and professional education and training. VET is predominantly based on a dual system: practical training (apprenticeship) on three to four days at a training company is supplemented by theoretical classes (vocational and general educational subjects) on one to two days at the VET school. In addition, the VET students attend inter-company courses, in which they enhance vocational practical skills. The vocational education and training (VET) can also be completed at a full-time vocational school. In the French-speaking and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland, the proportion of full-time vocational schools is higher than in German-speaking Switzerland.

Vocational education and training (VET): programmes and admission requirements

Pupils who have completed lower-secondary education and have reached the age of 14 can apply for an apprenticeship at a training company or (in some cases passing an entrance examination is required) enrol at a full-time vocational school. The training company decides on the selection procedure. In general, criteria for selecting a VET student include the student's performance in lower-secondary education, the application documents and an interview. Various training companies also require applicants to pass an aptitude test.

Vocational education and training (VET) offers the following programmes:

  • Two-year vocational education and training VET programme with Federal VET Certificate

    The two-year vocational education and training VET programme leading to a Federal VET Certificate offers adolescents with lower learning performance a federally recognised professional qualification. It enables them to continue their training at a higher level within the VET sector and offers them the possibility of an abbreviated three or four year vocational education and training with a VET Diploma.

  • Three- or four-year VET programme with Federal VET Diploma

    The three- or four-year VET programme leading to a Federal VET Diploma provides training for work in a particular profession and offers the possibility of a higher vocational education and training.

  • Federal Vocational Baccalaureate programme leading to a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate

    The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate (FVB) programme leading to a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate (FVB) Certificate is an extended general education to supplement the three- or four-year VET programme for adolescents with higher learning performance. The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate has been introduced in the mid-1990s. A FVB enables direct admission to a university of applied sciences. Together with the university aptitude test, according to the reglementation of the «Passerelle», the FVB grants admission to university studies.

    The FVB programme can be completed either during the three- or four-year VET programme (additional instruction in general education subjects) or, after completing the VET by attending a corresponding educational institution (one-year full-time programme or one-and-a-half to two-years part-time programme). The FVB Certificate can also be obtained by passing the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate Examinations.The preparation can occur in self-study without attending a VET programme. An admission procedure or the student's performance at the end of lower-secondary education or at the end of VET decide whether students can enrol in FVB education. The admission requirements and admission procedures are regulated by the cantons.

Catch up on federally recognised VET qualifications / Validation of non-formal and informal learning

Adults can also earn a VET qualification without attending a formal VET programme. According to the Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act, there are several possible qualification procedures for demonstrating professional skills (see graphic): Adults can pass the regular final examinations for VET programmes. Admission to the examination requires certain prerequisites to be met. There are other qualification procedures for specific occupational groups. These procedures are regulated by specific VET ordinances for each profession. In addition, there are individual qualification procedures (validation of non-formal and informal learning). These procedures take account of professional or non-professional practical experience acquired outside the usual VET programmes.

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Last update of this page: 09.01.2018