In Switzerland, companies offer apprenticeship-positions after having passed an accreditation process on cantonal level. They agree on a apprenticeship contract with the apprentice for training them in a real work environment letting them fulfil business-relevant tasks. VET programmes follow the dual-track model of learning and 85% of them the apprenticeship model, that combines part-time classroom instruction at a vocational school with part-time practical training at a host company.

Actually studies show, that apprentices undertake tasks that generate an economic benefit for the host company. This motivates companies of all sizes to contribute substantially to VET-programmes. Since these programmes cover many skills linked to a particular occupation, it is difficult for very specialised companies to offer the whole VET-programme. Therefore, they may create a host company network with other small-sized or specialised companies to host only part of an apprenticeship in combination with one or more other companies.

VET accreditation

Companies need to apply for VET accreditation issued by the canton, and it must be awarded before taking on an apprentice. The cantons may have additional requirements to the ones mentioned above. The cantons are also responsible for conducting inspections of apprenticeships in the companies. The inspectors visit the companies on a regular basis in order to check their ability to be a good host company for their apprentice. The cantons may also revoke VET accreditation from a company that does not meet the requirements during inspections.

In order for a company to obtain authorisation to train apprentices, certain requirements must be met:

Operational requirements:

  • Workplace/environment for an apprentice
  • Practical work as defined in the VET curriculum must be executed according to the respective regulation/ordinance, model course, etc. Partially external training courses are also possible.

Staff requirements:

  • Apprenticeship trainer must comply with the respective regulation/ordinance
  • Participation in a training course for apprenticeship trainers

Host company network

Small and medium-sized companies, which are too specialised to offer the training in all areas specified in the VET curriculum, may train apprentices jointly and share the cost and time invested in the training. By creating a host company network (Lehrbetriebsverbund), these small-sized or specialised companies may host part of an apprenticeship in combination with one or more other companies. The participating companies in this multi-company collaboration share resources and apprentices. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) can provide initial funding to support the creation of such a host company network.

Work simulation/workshop training

The training of apprentices in a work simulation or workshops may be considered, if safety issues prevent them from mastering the tasks in the real work environment.

Education monitoring report and learning documentation

The Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA Art. 20) sets forth that the VET trainers and VET managers in the host companies do their best in supporting their apprentices to reach their goals (Lernerfolg) and control them frequently. The Vocational and Professional Education and Training Ordinance (VPETO Art. 7) states that the VET trainer is obliged to keep track of the education level of the apprentice in an education monitoring report and evaluate the development of the apprentice at least once a semester. This instrument records the apprentices’ progress regarding the educational goals, which are described in the education plan belonging to the relevant occupational ordinance. The use of the education monitoring report supports a continuous dialogue between apprentice and the VET trainer. There are different possibilities for the structure of the education monitoring report. It can be an adjusted form that is used for assessing employees. Many branch organisations prepare specific forms for the companies that engage in VET in order to assess their apprentices already with branch specific contents. The SDBB offers a neutral form for the ‘Education monitoring report’ free of charge. It suggests that the VET trainers or VET manager of a company evaluates the personal behaviour, the work attitude and the professional competences of the apprentice. Another instrument, that provides a systematic overview of all the performance goals, which have to be reached during the apprenticeship is the learning documentation.

In contrast to the education monitoring report, it enables the apprentice and the VET trainers alike to follow the performance goals as described in the education plan. The learning documentation supports planning and controlling at the same time. The work with the learning documentation begins before the apprenticeship starts. The VET trainer and the future apprentice plan the apprenticeship together by filling in the performance goals divided into the length of the apprenticeship. The planning process takes into account the branch courses and the vocational school as much as possible. Later on during the apprenticeship, apprentices are responsible for the learning documentation, which supports the development of self-responsibility. Apprentices keep track of their practical learning experiences by recording when a task has been explained for the first time and when the performance goal has been achieved. The VET trainer and the apprentice meet regularly to discuss the practical experience and the results of the work conducted by the apprentice. The performance goals can be adjusted during the apprenticeship. The apprentices need to have mastered all the performance goals and the learning documentation must be complete. The VET trainer checks and signs the learning journal at least once a semester (end of semester).