International Cooperation in Vocational and Professional Education and Training (IC-VPET)


Strengthening Swiss Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) in the international context is the education policy objective according to the strategy for international cooperation in VPET of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

SERI strategy and objectives

Swiss education policy prioritises international exchanges with other countries. Increasingly, the Swiss VPET system has been the focus of such endeavours in an effort to improve the visibility and level of recognition of Switzerland’s VET sector. Swiss dual-track VET programmes place heavy emphasis on providing young people with competences in demand on the labour market. Steps have also been taken to promote Swiss vocational qualifications and encourage qualification holders to obtain competences in other countries. SERI's IC-VPET Strategy offers a coherent frame of reference for the various activities.

Expertise in skills formation

Through bilateral and multilateral contacts and cooperation initiatives, Switzerland promotes the international transfer and exchange of expertise in the area of dual-track VET. With the participation of Swiss VPET and economic stakeholders, SERI receives official foreign delegations wishing to know more about the Swiss VPET system and relies on new or existing forums created by national or international partners to raise the profile of the Swiss VPET system and encourage dialogue with various stakeholders. In addition, Switzerland is involved in activities and cooperation initiatives at both European and bilateral levels, which allows it to share its expertise in the area of skills formation with various partner countries. There are currently several bilateral initiatives with various countries, including the USA.

Project funding for international projects in the field of VPET
Project funding for international projects is available for persons with a Swiss legal personality (legal or national persons). In accordance with art. 55 of the Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA) provision of funding is limited to a maximum period of five years. Detailed information is provided by the corresponding guideline (german). In addition, Switzerland works at multilateral level with other countries that also have dual-track VET systems (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg). This includes joint efforts to develop the Apprenticeship Toolbox.

Mobility and recognition of Swiss vocational and professional qualifications

Encouraging international mobility in education is important for Switzerland. Switzerland participates on a project-per-project basis in the EU education programmes. In this context, Switzerland has developed a National qualifications framework for vocational and professional qualifications (NQF VPQ) based on the European qualifications framework for lifelong learning (EQF-LLL). This instrument allows employers in Europe to gain a clearer understanding of what holders of Swiss vocational and professional qualifications can do, thereby enabling comparison with similar qualifications in other European countries and facilitating the mobility of Swiss workers on the European labour market. The aim of achieving the mutual recognition of vocational and professional qualifications is also furthered by bilateral agreements and multilateral agreements (on the recognition of foreign qualifications).

IC-VPET Website

The objectives and activities pursued by SERI in the area of IC-VPET are complementary to those of other federal agencies with similar activities in this area. SERI works in conjunction with the cantons and professional organisations to consolidate and further develop the Swiss education system at national and international level. This is achieved partly through the mutual recognition of foreign qualifications combined with support measures for exchange programmes, and partly through the sharing of information and expertise on education policy with interested countries.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) contribute to sustainable development through vocational education and training projects and policy dialogue in selected priority countries. These activities are aimed at fostering development, foreign trade and international migration policy. Finally, Presence Switzerland and the Swiss diplomatic network enhance the visibility of the Swiss VPET system abroad. More information on coordination between federal agencies can be found on the IC-VPET Website.


SERI, Martin Strickler
Scientific Advisor
International Relations
T +41 58 464 73 47