Taking stock of the recognition of prior learning in initial vocational education and training (VET)

In May 2019, the Federal Council adopted measures aimed at tapping the potential of the domestic labour force. This study focusses on Measure 4 'Recognition of prior learning', which is currently being implemented by SERI in cooperation with the cantons. The aim of the study is to provide a nationwide assessment of implementation of the recognition of prior learning in initial VET.

Adobe Stock / peshkova

The aim of this study is to take stock of current recognition of prior learning practices in initial VET in all Swiss cantons. The results of this study will serve as an important basis for the development or further development of tools and processes used to recognise adult prior learning.

Recognition of prior learning is understood as a process that already begins in the counselling phase, i.e. before an adult decides on a suitable path towards a formal vocational qualification (SERI, 2018a, 2018b). The ‘recognition of prior learning’ should therefore not be confused with the ‘validation of prior learning’. In Switzerland, the latter falls under the category of 'other qualification procedure' in VET programmes and is recognised by SERI by virtue of Art. 33 'Examinations and other qualification procedures' of the Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act, VPETA.

Specifically, the following questions will be addressed in this study:

  1. What recognition of prior learning practices do we find in Swiss cantons (i.e. admission, dispensation, direct access to the qualification procedure)? For each recognition of prior learning practice, we will ask how prevalent it is.
  2. What tools are used by the cantons for the recognition of prior learning in initial VET?
  3. Are there established recognition of prior learning processes and methods, and how are these designed?
  4. From the perspective of the cantons, what are the greatest challenges in implementing the recognition of prior learning?

In order to answer the questions described above, the study will be conducted in two phases. In the first phase of the study, a standardised online questionnaire will be prepared and sent to all Swiss cantons. This questionnaire will enable the collecting of data on implementation of the recognition of prior learning in initial VET. In the second phase of the study, in-depth qualitative interviews will be conducted in individual cantons.