Dual education – an apprenticeship in Switzerland

Johann Schneider-Ammann, President of the Swiss Confederation, continually highlights the success of Switzerland’s dual education system: “Its focus on application and freedom of choice provides young people with high-quality training and makes a major contribution to the low level of youth unemployment in Switzerland. Vocational training based on the voluntary participation of companies is increasingly attracting interest internationally.”

Professional apprenticeships, known as dual education, take place at two places of learning – at the company and at a vocational college – and generally take three to four years. Similar systems of vocational education exist in Germany and Austria. Professional apprenticeships are the most common form of training in Switzerland after compulsory education. Around two thirds of all young people undertake an apprenticeship. They can choose between 200 apprentice careers recognised by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and acquire the knowledge required for a specific career. The youngsters are equipped for the world of work after completing the training and passing the final examination that leads to the Federal VET Diploma. There are various options for education and training, such as the vocational baccalaureate and a subsequent university degree at a university of applied sciences. Admission to traditional universities is also an option with additional qualifications.

The biggest hurdle is at the beginning. Young people have to determine where their interests lie and which vocational training they are best suited to. They must then apply independently for an apprenticeship. This is not always easy for young Swiss Abroad. The apprentices receive a small salary during their training. Grants may be applied for in the case of difficult financial circumstances where parents are not able to pay for the training. Young Swiss Abroad who undertake their training in Switzerland and therefore live away from their parents’ home and face higher costs also sometimes depend on such financial support from their home cantons.

educationsuisse provides apprentices and students with support in filing grant applications. educationsuisse also provides advisory consultations in cooperation with the Berne-Mittelland BIZ careers and study advisory centre.

For further information on grants, careers advice and any questions about education and training in Switzerland, please contact the staff at educationsuisse at info@educationsuisse.ch.

Ruth von Gunten, educationsuisse


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