The Swiss vocational education and training (VET) programmes are provide at three places of learning that collaborate closely according to the national VET legislation, the specific VET ordinances and education plan. Besides the apprenticeship training in the companies and the classroom instruction in the vocational schools, the third places of learning are the branch courses.

The assessment of the apprentices’ learning progress is based on his/her performance at all three learning places. Therefore, VET trainers and VET teachers may exchange their views on an apprentice.

Branch courses (überbetriebliche Kurse) complement classroom instruction at vocational schools and apprenticeship training at host companies by providing the apprentices with further essential practical skills that could not be provided at a company for example for safety reasons. Branch courses often take place at third-party training centres run by the relevant trade/industry association. The branch courses are mandatory for the apprentices. A dispensation is possible if the host company can prove that the apprentice has received the specific training in the vocational school or during the apprenticeship training at the company. The duration of the courses varies from days to weeks, depending on the requirements of the VET ordinance. Branch courses are financed with course fees paid by the host companies, funding of the confederation and the cantons and, if available, contributions from the professional organisations.