The Federal Act on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPETA) and the Ordinance on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPETO) form the national legal framework for the Swiss VPET system. In line with the VPETA each canton issues their own cantonal legislation on VPET. SERI issues education ordinances for each VET programme (VET ordinances). Each apprentice needs an apprenticeship contract and the companies need a VET accreditation in order to take on apprentices.

Vocational Training Act

The Federal Act on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPETA) of 13 December 2002 and the Ordinance on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPETO) of 19 November 2003 form the legal framework for the Swiss VPET system. They define standards for upper-secondary level vocational education and training (VET), tertiary-level professional education and training (PET) and job-related continuing education and training (CET). This legislation promotes and devises a VPET system that enables individuals to develop both professionally and personally, and helps them to integrate into society, particularly in the world of work. It also promotes a VPET system that serves to boost companies' competitiveness and strives to provide equal opportunities and options for the transfer between different types and levels of education and training as well as between different fields. The legislation brings together all areas of VPET.

Cantonal VET legislation

The cantons are responsible for the enforcement of VPETA. For this reason, each canton issues its own cantonal legislation on vocational education and training. The cantonal legislation is usually not influencing the scope of VPETA, its purpose is to enforce the existing national legislation. Some cantons are issuing formal legislation (cantonal law) others introduce it through ordinances, decrees and other regulations.

VET ordinances

In collaboration with SERI, the sectors’ professional organisations are in charge of defining the training content as well as the national qualification procedures (Qualifikationsverfahren) for VET programmes and federal examinations in PE. The qualification procedure on upper-secondary level marks the end of an apprenticeship. The apprentice acquires grades from the vocational school through intermediate and final examinations, which are complemented by the grade for the practical experience from the host company.

SERI issues education ordinances for each VET programme (VPETA Article 19). By way of example, a VET ordinance has been issued for the VET programme to become a ‘Chef, Federal Diploma of Vocational Education and Training’, which is the translation of the legally protected title: ‘Köchin / Koch EFZ - Cuisinière / Cuisinier CFC - Cuoca / Cuoco AFC’. The VET ordinances are issued at the request of professional organisations or, if necessary, at the cantons’ or SERI’s own initiative. In particular, VET ordinances cover the following aspects: The subject matter and duration of the corresponding VET programme; the objectives and requirements; health and safety regulations; environmental protection; the scope of course content and the distribution of VET content across learning environments; the VET curriculum; the minimum standards for the VET professionals; the maximum number of apprentices per company; the learning documentation; the learning report and performance documentation; the qualification procedure; the qualifications and titles; the quality development and organisation and the final provisions.

Apprenticeship Contract

The apprenticeship contract is a standardised agreement between the apprentice and an employer. In Switzerland, an apprenticeship contract is only valid in written form. The special content of an apprenticeship contract is that the main compensation for work performed by the apprentice is that he receives professionally conducted VET training provided by the company. The contract also defines the monthly apprenticeship salary and its increase throughout the apprenticeship. The nationally standardised apprenticeship contract is available on The apprenticeship contract is described in VPETA, and integrated into the Code of Obligations (Article 344 to 346a) in the Swiss Civil Code.

Employment Act

The Employment Act (EmpA) is a central element for the protection of employees. It is also binding for apprentices. For example, it regulates the protection of young children and adults, protection of health and working hours. The articles on the protection of young children (Article 29 to 32 EmpA) in-cludes, among other things, a description of the term youth, restrictions at the workplace and specifies the minimum age including exceptions.

Collective Employment Contract

In the Collective Employment Contract (Code of Obligations Article 356 para. 1), an employer or the employers’ associations and the employees associations put together legal provisions about the employment relationship of the involved parties (employers and employees). The Collective Employment Contract establishes norms and is divided into a normative part and a contractual part.