The Swiss VPET system enables young people to enter the labour market and ensures that there are enough skilled workers and managers in the future. It has a high labour market relevance and is an integral part of the education system. The Swiss Confederation, in collaboration with its partners, is able to adapt the system considering changing circumstances. Projects and measures encourage permeability and a labour-market oriented strategy to provide individuals with the necessary skills they actually need in the world of work. Therefore, all partners involved in the public-private partnership develop specific initiatives and projects in VPET at national level Some projects and initiatives emerging in the field of VET cover a broader spectrum of policy objectives (education, development, cooperation, international relations, migration and the economy).
VPET 2030 – Vision
Recently the partners responsible for VPET have adopted a mutual declaration (mission statement). It creates the frame for joint and target-oriented action by collective governance of the Confederation, the cantons and the private sector in the following years. It is based on some crucial key elements of VPET that shall stay in focus in the future. The kick-off for the initiative to draft a VPET 2030 mission statement took place at the National High-Level Conference on Vocational and Professional Education and Training in 2016. In the following, the partners elaborated the mission statement at various occasions such as the Associated Partner Conference (Verbundpartnertagung) in 2017 and others. They declared that the VPET system, consisting of apprenticeships, the vocational baccalaureate, tertiary-level professional education and job-related continuing education and training is well prepared to move forward for remaining successful. Considering future challenges, they defined strategic guidelines that might respond to megatrends such as digitalisation, increasing job mobility and flexibility, rising demands and globalisation. Following the vision that VPET secures Switzerland’s prosperity, stays attractive and open to everyone and enjoys national support as well as international recognition the PPP defined their mission: (1) VPET is a central part of the Swiss education system and considers the needs of the labour market and the ones of society. Therefore, education models need to be flexible and permeable for offering individual learning pathways. (2) VPET anticipates trends and needs of a branch, and adapts accordingly. This assures that learners keep pace with developments and hence requires modern, competence-oriented training content. (3) The three partners share responsibility for VPET. Hence, they are committed to create efficient structures and high quality, for which clear assignment of tasks, responsibilities and financing assure. In this context, the implementation process has started in 2018. The relevant steering committee VPET 2030 has mandated the elaboration of key elements of Swiss VEPT representing propositions for future reforms. In addition the SERI mandated the elaboration of various reports that reveal options for the further developing of the following aspects of VPET: career guidance counselling, financing, improved flexibility of VPET in the context of digitalisation, transversal competences, systemic control of VEPT in Switzerland and last but yet importantly, governance within the Swiss VEPT (systemic steering of the Swiss VEPT).
Integrating adults in VET – Achievement of diploma or change of profession
Adults may acquire VET qualifications by various means for which the VPETA provides a wide framework. The pathways range from regulated, structured procedures for some occupational categories to individual recognition procedures in validation processes. There is no age limit to begin an apprenticeship. If the company and prospective apprentice are in agreement with each other, an adult may begin an apprenticeship. The formal qualifications that can be acquired by adult learners are the same as what young learners acquire upon completion of training.
Since 2013 the topic of integrating adults into VET has become a main focus of the partners of the public-private partnership. From 2013-2017 the SERI led a project «VET-degree and change of occupation for adults» to address the lack of qualified workers as part of the corresponding national initiative. The project itself defined measures in order to find solutions for further qualification of adults, validation processes for adults and the process of catching up on specific skills as adults. Since the start of the project, the total number of VET-degrees achieved by persons above 25 has been increased.
Strengthening the Federal VET Baccalaureate
The Federal VET baccalaureate is crucial for the permeability within the Swiss education system. It delivers general education to complement the contents of VET-programmes and allows for further studies on tertiary level (UAS). Apprentices may pass courses for achieving qualification level for the FVB during their apprenticeship (FVB type I) or after (FVB type II). For young apprentices both types of FVB’s are appealing but they and especially FVB type I are also very demanding as well as time-consuming and there are companies that favour apprentices being as present as possible at work during their apprenticeship. Therefore, more VET-diploma holders than apprentices opt for FVB-programmes. In addition the total percentage of FVB-examinations are still moderate on average and there are great differences between the cantons. These findings let the PPP launch an initiative in 2014 for strengthening the FVB with special focus on implementing more flexibility regarding the design of FVB type I programmes. In addition, they agreed on enhancing information and communication about the FVB. Both measures support the attractiveness of VET for gifted learners and hence foster excellence in VET. Public as well as private stakeholders contribute to the implementation of both measures. The involvement of companies is very important. Some confirm that on mid- and long-term level they or their branch profit even more from apprentices that opt for a FVB in parallel with their VET-programme, since these are usually not only determined learners but also resilient and high-performing workers. Such companies might better motivate their peers than the public authorities to support apprentices in opting for a FVB already during the apprenticeship.