After school, two-thirds of young people in Switzerland enrol on an apprenticeship. Depending on the trade, the apprenticeship lasts three or four years. When the apprentices have successfully completed their training they are awarded a Federal vocational education and training diploma. Less able students can pursue a two-year course, which results in a Federal vocational education and training certificate.
It is the combination of learning and practical work that makes vocational education in Switzerland special. This is known as the dual-track system. Apprentices usually work for four days per week, although it may be fewer in some trades, for a training company where they gain practical skills. On the other day(s) of the week they attend a vocational college where they learn the theory.
Academically gifted students can also attend a course at the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate College, which leads to a Federal vocational baccalaureate. The course can be completed during the apprenticeship or afterwards. Students who gain the Federal vocational baccalaureate have the opportunity to progress later to a university of applied sciences.