The involvement of  the private sector is crucial for the functioning of the Swiss VPET system. On institutional level the Employers’ umbrella associations “Schweizerischer Arbeitgeberverband” and “ Schweizerischer Gewerbeverband as well as particular branch-specific trade/industry associations represent the aggregated interests of companies. Since they all form – alike the social partners – part of the non-public professional organisations in the public-private partnership (PPP) of vocational and professional education and training (VPET), they also participate systematically at all VPET policy- making processes concerning legislative issues and the development of vocational standards.

They are invited to participate at all VPET conferences, relevant commissions and working groups (Federal Commission for Vocational and Professional Education and Training FCVPET, National High-Level Conference on Vocational and Professional Education and Training, Associated Partner Conference, Autumn Conference etc.). Since there are many different branch-specific trade/industry associations, they might participate on a rotation principle (f.ex. at the Federal Commission for Vocational and Professional Education and Training FCVPET).

On implementation level, trade/industry associations organize and finance their networking activities themselves, they maintain working groups, decide on common sectorial goals and often have their own sector specific promotion activities as well as representatives on national level. They define the branch-specific and actual training contents (curricula) and assure for the development of new apprenticeship schemes as well as the reform of existing ones. Hence, they are chairing the reform commissions (Reformkommissionen) and the commissions for education development and quality (Kommissionen für Berufsentwicklung und Qualität) for each of their qualifications in their branch. In addition, they might offer industry courses that complement the education provided in VET-schools and companies in some branches. About 40% of all companies in Switzerland offer apprenticeship positions and provide the practical skills recognized on the labour market. More than 85% of the apprenticeships follow the dual-track model of a VET-programme. In this case, a company employs the apprentices on a basis of a real working contract as well as the in-company trainers. Hence, companies complement the education provided in VET-schools largely. However, there are regional differences. In the French- and Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland, there is a marked preference for school-based VET programmes compared to the German-speaking region: in 2017, only 4.4% of all VET-programmes in the German-speaking region were school-based, whereas in the French-speaking region the proportion stood at 25.1% and in the Italian-speaking region at 29.2%.

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