In Switzerland, apprenticeship is the most common form of post-compulsory education and training and enjoys an excellent reputation. Young people may choose from over two hundred possible careers and then find an appropriate apprenticeship. Clearly their performance at secondary school level 1 will influence their chances of being apprenticed within their chosen career.
The three- or four-year basic course provides an advanced federal certificate that qualifies graduates to practise a specific trade or profession and enables access to higher vocational training. The two-year basic course allows less academically inclined students to complete a recognised professional qualification (basic federal certificate) with a unique educational profile.
Training is divided into three separate components:
No charge is made for this schooling. From the first year on, the apprentice receives a monthly salary of several hundred Swiss francs.
Vocational training is completed with a practical and theoretical examination, and graduates receive a federal certificate of competence or federal professional certification which is recognised throughout Switzerland. On successful completion of an apprenticeship, young people can not only find a job in their learnt profession but can also go on to study a variety of subjects at tertiary level.
It is also possible to do an apprenticeship by full-time attendance at a vocational college. However, this is only possible in a small number of subjects, mainly business, health and art. There are significantly more full-time vocational colleges in west Switzerland and in Ticino than in German-speaking Switzerland.