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Low-Threshold Possibilities in Swiss Vocational Training

Background and aims

Access to work and vocation has become harder for young people over the past two years. Particularly threatened are young people with learning problems, disadvantages and disabilities. For this group, Switzerland has some comparatively differentiated but insufficiently evaluated educational opportunities connected with the transition from school to working life. These opportunities have been developed during the dearth of apprenticeships of recent years, and pilot projects have been promoted with considerable financial aid from the state.

This in-depth study started with the projects in support area B of the Lehrstellenbeschluss 2 (LSB2) (the Federal Apprenticeship Act 2). The aim was an investigation into the low-threshold vocational education available in Switzerland.


The focal points of the investigation were projects promoted by the Confederation within the framework of the LSB2 in 2000-2004.
LSB2 projects were defined as "low-threshold" when they fulfilled at least one of the following criteria:

  1. The project belongs to the practical vocational area (training, certificate education, new job profiles, or
  2. The project is a bridge (e.g. pre-apprenticeship, 10th grade etc.), or
  3. According to its objectives, the project is orientated explicitly towards young people with integration problems on the labour market (e.g. young people with educational deficits, young people with a migration background).


On this basis, two telephone surveys were carried out between the end of January and the beginning of May 2004. The first survey concerned the directors (N=64) of the selected low-threshold possibilities who, within the framework of a structured telephone interview, provided information on various aspects of their projects. These investigatory sample surveys of the projects were extended by the addition of data from another in-depth study and embraced 86 projects. The second survey consisted of (largely qualitative) interviews with 16 cantonal authorities for the co-ordination and realisation of the LSB2 projects. In addition, the available written documents were analysed.


With the aim of clarifying and illustrating the different philosophies and principles of the educational opportunities offered, specific projects – evaluated as exemplary – were selected and developed into case study portraits.

The multifaceted results were published in a final report. In conclusion, an "integrative transition policy" is required, which combines the many existing reform principles that embrace the preparatory secondary level I, the vocational secondary level II, and the transition to the labour market. The various measures should be co-ordinated on institutional and individual levels (case management). In specific regions, promising integrative beginnings are already in evidence


  • Häfeli, K., Rüesch, P., Landert, Ch., Sardi, M. & Wegenger, R. (2004). Lehrstellenbeschluss 2: Vertiefungsstudie Niederschwellige Angebote. Bern: Bundesamt für Berufsbildung & Technologie (BBT) & Koordinationsstelle für Weiterbildung der Universität Bern.
  • Häfeli, K. (2004). Zwischenlösung und Brückenangebote: Lösung oder Problem für junge Frauen? In: Schweiz. Konferenz der Gleichstellungsbeauftragten, Lehrstellenprojekt 16+ (Ed.); Achtung Gender. Ausbildungsverhalten von Mädchen und jungen Frauen. Zürich.


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