The role of the structure of VET in early career development

Ausbildung Berufe junge Leute Beruf Freisteller freigestellt isoliert
The Swiss education system has a high level of vocational specificity resulting in close links between training occupations and subsequent careers as well as low inter-occupational mobility over the course of careers. International comparative studies highlight the advantages of this kind of specific vocational education and training. In countries with a strong dual-track VET system, people who have completed VET experience a rapid transition to the labour market and comparatively high entry salaries.

However, this comparative research often overlooks the fact that significant differences in terms of institutional characteristics exist within a VET system which can result in different levels of income on the labour market after VET. In view of this situation, this dissertation explores the extent to which institutional dimensions of the Swiss VET system influence salaries and salary development, status mobility and the transition to further, tertiary education. It also analyses the interaction between institutional and individual characteristics, such as gender and socio-economic background. On one hand, the institutional dimensions are directly related to the training occupations, in particular their vocational specificity, standardisation and vertical differentiation. On the other, various labour market segments containing the host companies are found are examined.

Overall, this dissertation draws attention to variation in institutional characteristics within a country by analyzing the importance of training occupation characteristics and labor market segments for early labor market outcomes.

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In a first step, detailed information about the institutional characteristics of the training occupations, i.e. the level of specificity, standardisation and vertical differentiation, was conceptualised and collected using training ordinances and curricula. This data was then linked with representative individual level data (Swiss Labour Force Survey, TREE). Finally, multivariate analysis (multilevel and propensity score methods) was used to evaluate how the institutional characteristics of the training occupation influence early career development.


The results show that salaries, status mobility and transitions to tertiary education differ significantly within vocationally oriented training systems.

  • Various forms of knowledge (general, specific) and the type of knowledge transfer (practical, theoretical) are particularly important in relation to salaries and status development during the early career stages, whereas vertical differentiation (different performance levels in the occupational field, such as the Federal VET Certificate and Federal VET Diploma) of the training occupations only has a positive effect long-term.
  • The differentiation of the effect of the specificity on salaries in relation to gender and the gender typology of occupations opens up new opportunities for understanding the gender pay gap. The results indicate that the income for occupation-specific and general knowledge of men and women are determined by complex interaction between gender, skills and gender-specific performance expectations.
  • Finally, the analysis of various labour market segments shows that even in the same training occupation, the host company’s segment makes a difference which can compensate for background-related educational disparities.
  • People with VET who were trained in a labour market segment with institutionalised career opportunities are more likely to go onto tertiary education than those trained in a segment without institutionalised career opportunities.
  • People from a lower socio-economic background in particular benefit from training in the primary segment.
1.1.2019 to 15.7.2021
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