Situation of apprentices and transition process in low-threshold training programmes: A qualitative preparatory study

Two-year VET programmes for the Federal VET Certificate and practical training courses offered by INSOS were introduced about ten years ago. Since then, a global positive evaluation has been done of these programmes.

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However, statistics at our disposal seem to indicate higher premature interruption rates in two-year VET programmes than in the more demanding three-year and four-year VET programmes for the Federal VET Diploma. Little is known about the reasons why young people drop out or the pathways taken afterwards. Otherwise, the entry into the labour market of young graduates or the continuation of their education and training begins to be questioned for certain sectors. Nevertheless, a certain number of questions relating to these issues remain unanswered: quality of integration in terms of type of contract, employment rate, adequacy with the training undertaken; level of satisfaction with their situation; awareness of available support measures, etc.

Financed by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and conducted in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences of Special Needs Education (HfH) in Zurich, the present study is intended to shed light on these questions by drawing from the experiences and knowledge of experts. This will be used as the basis for a larger-scale, mixed-methodology research project on training pathways and transitions in these VET programmes (entry into a training programme, interruption of training, entry into the labour market or continuation of education and training).

The main research questions are as follows:

  • What information is currently available on dropout rates in the various professional sectors and cantons?
  • What reasons lead to a premature interruption of training?
  • What support measures exist in this type of situation and how effective are they?
  • What are the outcomes of an interruption of training? What transitions exist between different training options at this level?

In order to answer these questions, a qualitative methodology was chosen, involving semi-structured interviews (around 25) to be conducted in three waves. The first step entails conducting interviews with research and field specialists who have an overall view of the situation (e.g. representatives of the Swiss Conference of VET offices (SBBK/CSFP) or the INSOS association). Then, interviews with the heads of cantonal VET offices and professional organisations are planned. Finally, interviews will be conducted with individuals who are in direct contact with the target population at vocational schools and other training institutions.

Expected results

This qualitative study is intended to update knowledge about low-threshold training programmes, and primarily concerning the reasons leading to a training interruption and its consequences, so as to improve support to young people who find themselves in this kind of situation. This will also be a preparatory study aimed at verifying the feasibility of the planned research at various levels: choice of professional sectors and cantons to be taken into account; contact with the target population; and gathering of data; specification of issues to be investigated