Excellence in VET in Switzerland implies systemic attractiveness as well as individual performance. Traditionally the image of VET is positive among the Swiss population. VET-programmes are attractive to the young and their parent generation because VET-qualifications boost job prospects on the labour market and are solid foundation for lifelong learning as they are no dead end qualifications.

Hence, two-thirds of all young people in Switzerland, representing a wide range of talents, opt for one of the 230 different VET-programmes after compulsory education. This supports a high qualification and employment rate in Switzerland. Nearly 95% of young people hold upper-secondary level qualifications. In addition, SMEs and large companies alike seek after professionals with VET qualifications.

Systemic attractiveness of VPET

A few key features of Swiss VEPT support systemic attractiveness:

  • VET-programmes are the first step into life-long learning, as they are an integral part of the Swiss education system, which shows a high degree of permeability.
  • VEPT follows the dual-track model combining theoretical learning with practical training on various levels and at different learning places.
  • VET-programmes follow clearly defined professional profiles with nationally recognised and monitored qualifications procudures. This leads to transparent qualification valued on the labour market, because professionals have a solid range of competences at their disposal.
  • The public-private partnership between the confederation, the cantons and the professional organisation assures systemic governance. For example, they are responsible for facets of VPET like quality assurance, financing, development of VET-ordinances etc. Their respective tasks are clearly defined.
  • The labour-market orientation of VET- and PE-programmes is very high, since trade/industry associations define training content and companies train apprentices in a real working environment. Therefore, they take innovation and new developments such as digital transformation rapidly into account.
  • Companies contribute to the training of the next generation of qualified workers because apprentices conduct economically productive work and develop competences relevant for the labour market.
  • VET-programmes are also attractive for young people and their parents, because the labour market orientation of the programmes assures for solid career options as professionals.
  • Continuous development of VPET on thematic and systemic level is crucial for meeting future challenges. Therefore, SERI supports relevant innovation through research in VPET as well as project promotion.

There is a broad range of 230 different VET programmes (apprenticeships) with options for a wide range of talents assuring for integration as well as excellent performance. Some of them are very demanding and hence attractive to learners with talents on applied as well as academic level. Apprenticeships are attractive for gifted learners because of their clear profile and connectivity to educational pathways on tertiary level. Especially the integral approach of the practical training and the school-based learning leads to a profound knowledge of the profession. Apprenticeships lead towards being a well-respected and qualified person in the specific occupation. Professionals with VET qualifications are sought-after employees on the labour market.

The career opportunities after having completed a VET programme are vast and depend on the individual’s talents and ambitions. There are great opportunities for formal and non-formal continuing education and training (CET) as well as many on-the-job opportunities for professionals. Tertiary-level professional education (PE) builds up from upper-secondary level vocational education and training (VET). It provides professionals with specific competences and prepares them for highly technical and managerial positions. Talented learners may also wish to obtain the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate (FVB), an optional additional qualification entitling the holder to enrol in a Swiss university of applied sciences (UAS). In addition, FVB holders who go on to pass the University Aptitude Test (UAT) may also enrol in a cantonal university or one of Switzerland’s two federal institutes of technology (FITs). This permeability between the pathways assures for mixed education pathways and the combination of professional and academic education. Hence, the labour market, the learners, their parents and the society value these pathways high.

Skills Competition – showcasing individual excellence

For reinforcing this positive image of VET in Switzerland and supporting young VET-professionals, the foundation Swiss-Skills supports the Swiss Skills competition to highlight individual excellence in VET that is highly supported by the systemic attractiveness of VPET mentioned above. Each year, numerous trade associations representing approximately 60 occupations send their young professionals compete with each other at Swiss-Skills in national SwissSkills competitions. Apprentices can qualify for participation in their last year of the apprenticeship. The competition challenge and support self-initiative, stamina, creativity and pioneer work. The event is open to the public and used for promotion for VPET. In 2014, the first centrally organised SwissSkills competition was held in Bern. Because of its success this event format has been organised every second year since 2018. At the same time, these competitions serve as a means of selecting the excellent participants for the EuroSkills and WorldSkills competitions, where young Swiss professionals achieved to highlight their skills and compete on international level regularly too (f. ex. Switzerland achieved 3rd place on national Raking at World Skills in Kazan in 2019).These competitions alternate every two years. At Euro-Skills compete up to 700 young VET-talents with each other and at World-Skills there are even 1000 young professionals from more than 50 different countries showing their skills challenged by demanding international standards.