Vocational and professional education in Switzerland

Vocational and professional education and training includes vocational education and training (VET), tertiary level professional education, and job-related continuing education and training (CET). The Swiss vocational and professional education and training system, with its dual-track VET programmes (apprenticeship) and wide-ranging tertiary level professional education programmes outside higher education institutions, differs from other European vocational and professional education and training systems. It is characterised by high permeability and offers a broad range of initial or continuing education and training. The close cooperation between the Confederation, the cantons and professional organisations is a distinguishing feature of the Swiss system. The professional organisations get involved by defining the content and goals of vocational and professional education and training programmes and by training apprentices.


With the 18 April 1999 revision of the Federal Constitution (article 63), the responsibility for legislation of all vocational and professional education and training was transferred to the Confederation. All occupational fields except those covered by higher education institutions are incorporated under a uniform system, as initiated by the Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act of 13 December 2002. The Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act came into effect on 1 January 2004 and transferred responsibility for the professions of agriculture and forestry (which were previously regulated by other federal acts), as well as the vocational fields of healthcare, social work and arts (which were previously regulated on a cantonal or intercantonal basis) to the Confederation. This guarantees uniformity with regard to legal bases, qualifications, recognition procedures, core curricula etc.

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Last update of this page: 27.08.2018

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