In Switzerland there is an apprenticeship market since young people compete for an apprenticeship contract with a company, which is the entry ticket for enrolling in a VET-programme. The State plays a mediating role assuring good framework conditions (f. ex. career guidance counselling). The private sector is highly involved in the development and provision of VET- and PE-programmes. Actually, trade/industry associations contribute substantially to the matching of supply and demand in those programmes by anticipating and assessing the skills-needs of the labour market.

These activities are supported by the monitoring of the matching of supply and demand in VET-programmes and other statistics gathered and published periodically.

Skills assessment and forecasting

The Confederation and the cantons ensure the best general conditions for host companies, encourage the provision of apprenticeship positions and help young people to choose an occupation. Various factors influence supply and demand on the apprenticeship market shown by the following figure:

Switzerland matching supply and demand 2017

Source: SERI Facts and Figures 2017


Since professional organisations possess immediate knowledge and know-how of economic processes and the needs of particular branches, they assess the market mechanisms in their branches. Hence, they respond if skill needs arise. The analysis of skills needs takes place before the development of a new qualification. Several consulting firms in Switzerland are specialised in supporting professional organisations during this process.

The same holds true for the process of revising existing qualifications. The process is driven by professional organisations. They may approach the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) as soon as they discover a discrepancy between the skills needs of a qualification and the VET programme associated with it.

Matching supply and demand: apprenticeship market and statistics

The analysis of the matching of supply and demand in VET- and PE-programmes is supported by research focussing on the entire education system and in particular on two transitions. The first one takes place between compulsory education and the first entrance into the labour market while searching for an apprenticeship position or following a general education pathway. The second transition is the moment when learners complete their apprenticeship and enter the labour market as an employee or continue in tertiary education. The moment of the transition process serves well to detect lack of coherence in the existing system as well as to look for indicators of change in the labour market.

Transition I: The match-up of apprenticeship demand and supply is monitored through the ‘transition barometer’ (Nahtstellenbarometer). An online tool is used to interview 14- to 16-year-olds who have completed their compulsory schooling in the summer of each year. In addition, a written survey is conducted at a representative number of companies. The results are published twice a year in April and August. This instrument was set up by GFS Bern a society for social research as part of a SERI mandate. In addition, the cantons carry out a monthly survey of supply and demand in the apprenticeship market, which is presented in their ‘list of apprenticeship positions’ (Lehrstellennachweis LENA).

Transition II: The ‘VET career entry barometer’ (Berufseinsteiger-Barometer) provides information about the development of the labour market for holders of a VET-Certificate or VET-Diploma. From 2010-2012 this instrument was developed by the Swiss job-market monitor (Stellenmarkt-Monitor Schweiz) at the University of Zurich on behalf of SERI. The latest publication showed that about 66% of all VET qualification holders immediately entered the workforce after graduation, of which two out of five graduates remained employed with their host company. About 20% enrolled in continuing education at tertiary level and only about 9% of all VET graduates remained unemployed or looking for a job in the year right after their graduation.

Every four years, the Swiss Education Report is published by the Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SCCRE). This particular research is contributing to the overall summary of current knowledge about the functioning of the Swiss education system. The latest report was published in 2018. The report contains facts and figures derived from statistics, research and official data and sets out the relevant background and contexts, describes the institutional characteristics of each level of the education system and assesses the performance of the education system on the basis of the three criteria of effectiveness, efficiency and equity. The Education Report sets out to give all players in the education system the opportunity to assess Switzerland's current education system and to develop their ideas regarding the Swiss education system of tomorrow.