VET programmes provide learners with solid professional competences and pave the way for lifelong learning. Programmes vary in duration from two years up to five years for specific high tech programmes. Apprenticeship programmes are characterised by horizontal and vertical permeability to ensure that there are no dead ends in the systems, that graduates are employable and that gifted VET graduates have rich opportunities to continue in education.
Completing apprenticeship training is just the beginning. The Austrian apprenticeship system provides wide-ranging opportunities for further vocational development. The introduction of the Berufsreifeprüfung in 1997 has led to an increased permeability of the education system. While the Berufsreifeprüfung does not lead to the acquisition of any professional qualifications, it does provide a general higher education entrance qualification to graduates of the dual system (apprenticeship leave examination). For admission to the Berufsreifeprüfung exams, school attendance is not required.
There are four main pathways in upper secondary VET. When the students have completed upper secondary education, they may continue in short-cycle vocationally oriented higher education. In addition, there are a number of opportunities to participate in lifelong learning.
Graduates of a dual apprenticeship have various options to continue their professional career. Especially for their advancement there are state recognized further training occupations leading to accepted and valued qualifications like the master craftsperson. Subject-related access to higher education is also possible under certain conditions. Through various initiatives the German government fosters the improvement of permeability in both directions, also addressing drop-outs from universities.
Learners who have successfully accomplished a VET programme have a legal right to access the next highest level of VET. Holders of a DAP and DT certification can get access to higher education by successfully completing optional preparatory modules in languages and mathematics. Master craftsperson studies are organised and accessible to holders of a DAP or DT qualification. Higher technician certificates are VET programmes at tertiary level accessible to holders of DT diploma that have followed the preparatory modules.
The Swiss Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) system offers various pathways for VET-Diploma holders to tertiary level education. Education and training options are clearly defined, qualification procedures are nationally recognised and there are no dead end qualifications. Because of this systemic permeability, VET-programmes are a solid foundation for life-long learning and support a sustainable professional career. Learners may switch from VET and/or PE pathways to general education and/or higher education pathways, if they match the level of academic or of practical skills required.