Couverture Céreq Formation Emploi 133 - Heurs et malheurs de l'apprentissage en Suisse
Formation Emploi (in English), n° 133, April 2016, 256 p.

Fortunes and misfortunes of learning in Switzerland

Published on
20 April 2016

Switzerland seems to be blessed indeed: low unemployment rate, pride of place given to vocational training and apprenticeships, close links between training programmes and the labour market … Over and above all that, this project encourages us to discover the mechanisms at work, and the challenges they present.

The origins of the social aims of the Swiss VET system. A logic of social reproduction

Lorenzo Bonoli

The Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) system developed progressively during the second half of the XIX century, following two main aims: An economic aim, securing a qualified workforce for Swiss companies, and a social aim: the social-political stabilization of society. After a description of the most important steps of institutionalization, the article will analyze its social aims, highlighting an improvement in the living conditions of the lowest classes but also a logic of social reproduction. The social aims develop from a logic of social reproduction to today’s logic of social mobility.

 The limits of the cult of vocational education and training: how the Swiss educational system reproduces social inequality

Julie Falcon

How has social inequality evolved following the expansion of the Swiss educational system during the 20th century? Our analyses, based on twenty-one surveys undertaken between 1972 and 2013, reveal that, even though the expansion of the educational system favored equality of the access to post-compulsory education, some strong social inequality persists. It proves to be that the Swiss educational system, characterized by numerous vocational education and training tracks, plays an important role in the persistence of these inequalities.

Job opportunities determine the transition to the labour market in Switzerland: A comparison of dual and school based apprenticeships

Helen Buchs and Barbara Müller

Compared to school-based vocational training dual apprenticeship in Switzerland provides more specific occupational skills. We examine how an individual’s type of education influences the chances of working in an occupation having trained for, to shift occupations, to invest in further education or be unemployed one year after graduation regarding different numbers of occupation-specific vacancies. We use the youth panel PISA/TREE and job ads from the Swiss Job Market Monitor data (SMM). Graduates from dual apprenticeship are shown to have a higher chance of entering the occupation trained for.

When the post-graduation transition foreshadows professional mobility: Four professional certifications in the cantons of Vaud and Geneva

François Rastoldo and Rami Mouad

This article provides an overview of school to work or higher education transitions of young graduates from cantons Geneva and Vaud, eighteen months after their professional diploma. The diploma requirement level as well as the way the training is structured has a clear impact on the nature of the transition. Indeed, apprenticeship graduates with dual (school and enterprise) training have a better integration into the labour market than those with school-only training, while the latter are more likely to pursue their training.

Federal VET Diploma: end of a key-position ?

Nadia Lamamra and Gilles Moreau

The Federal VET Diploma is a historical qualification in Switzerland. Created in the 1930’s, it has become a reference diploma at upper-secondary level. At the same time, the dual-track has become the predominant form of vocational education and training in Switzerland. Nevertheless, while the Federal VET Diploma has retained its very solid reputation, the reforms undertaken in the 1990’s put an end to its predominant status within the Swiss system of diplomas. It has moved from a virtually monopolistic situation to a minority one, due to the creation of new diplomas and the constant elevation of educational levels, in particular at tertiary education. 

Getting an apprenticeship: When the importance to individualize the application process makes a significant difference

Guillaume Ruiz and Gaele Goastellec

In Switzerland, the basic vocational training system is attended by two thirds of the students finishing compulsory schooling. If this training model seems an appropriate remedy in the contemporary international landscape, little is known about the processes by which an apprenticeship is obtained. On the basis of a qualitative survey of apprentices and recruiters, this article unveils the « hidden curriculum » in the seeking of an apprenticeship position and its consequences for the students. This curriculum includes the mastery of a certain know-how depending of the type of world at play in the different companies.

Training networks: A new form of apprenticeship in Switzerland

Julia Regula Leemann, Sandra Da Rin, Christian Imdorf

Training networks are a model of vocational training in the dual VET system in Switzerland. Small and medium-sized enterprises can train apprentices jointly. Drawing on four case studies of training networks in Switzerland and on the theory of the economics of conventions, two questions are treated: What are the motives of training companies for participation in a training network? Which conflicts and tensions arise from the joint training of apprentices? The results demonstrate the plurality of motifs for participation in a training network, resulting in dissatisfaction of the training companies and ongoing conflicts in the network over the course of the training.

Such Stuff Cabinetmakers are Made on. When Professional Order disrupts the School Paradigm : Vocational Education in Switzerland

Najate Zouggari

Here we compare the training of cabinetmakers in vocational schools (full-time) and in the dual-system (part-time school and part-time workplace), in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, canton of Vaud. The teachings are analyzed and the notion of «professional order» that affects the school paradigm and gives structure to the boundaries of professional identity. The cabinetmaker profession tends to be confused with that of a carpenter, in a context where the operational skills take precedence over the school paradigm.

Keywords: technical & vocational education, apprenticeship, cabinetmaker, training content, professional identity, trade organisation, professional knowledge, relationship skills,  

When interactions during training reinforce inequalities

Barbara Duc

This contribution is concerned with the interactions between apprentices and trainers during the period of training, in Switzerland. It consists in better understanding interactional processes participating to the reproduction of inequalities. In order to do this, we refer to a qualitative research, which leans on audio-video data documenting the training path of an automation specialist apprentice. A particular attention is paid to some characteristics of this apprentice which become source of marginalization and of stigmatization in the course of his training. 

When professional training serves the sexual division of labour. A case study of the meat sector in Switzerland

Isabelle V. Zinn

This ethnographic study of the meat sector in Switzerland investigates how an occupation becomes gendered, and more particularly the role played by professional training curricula in this labeling process. It shows how the Swiss meat industry has attempted to combat the negative images potentially associated with animal slaughter, notably through the introduction of a new training option, based on so-called « feminine » activities of meat product preparation. However, analysis shows that, rather than promoting women’s entry into the profession, this initiative tends to reinforce gender stereotypes and to crystallize a normative sexual division of labour within the occupation.


Fortunes and misfortunes of learning in Switzerland

The « Documentation française »

Formation Emploi , n° 133 , 2016 , 256 p

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Only abstracts are in English, texts are in French.

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Fortunes and misfortunes of learning in Switzerland, Formation Emploi (in English), n° 133, 2016, 256 p.