Fourth cost-benefit study of apprenticeship training from the companys’ standpoint

The cost-benefit ratio of apprenticeship training is a decisive factor in company willingness to provide an adequate number of apprenticeship positions for Swiss dual-track VET programmes. Ever since the first Swiss cost-benefit study was conducted in the year 2000, data on the costs and benefits for companies involved in apprenticeship training have been gathered at regular intervals in order to assess the economic sustainability of dual-track VET.

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Following a WTO-compliant tendering procedure, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation awarded a contract to the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) and its partner, M.I.S. Trend S.A., for the fourth cost-benefit study of apprenticeship training in Switzerland. In addition to estimating an aggregate cost-benefit ratio of apprenticeship training for all Swiss companies, cost-benefit parameters will be estimated for the most frequently chosen occupations (around twenty-five 3-year and 4-year VET programmes for the Federal VET Diploma and ten 2-year VET programmes for the Federal VET Certificate).

Key variables taken into account when determining gross costs, productive output of learners and net benefit to host companies are duration of training (2-year, 3-year or 4-year apprenticeships), the year of training (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th), the economic branch of activity, the company size and the region where the apprenticeship takes place.

Other key statistical indicators from the cost-benefit survey that will be calculated for strategic management purposes include the average recruitment opportunity gains for host companies, the host company ratio (i.e. the proportion of companies in Switzerland that offer apprenticeship training) and retention rates.

The results of the fourth cost-benefit survey should enable comparison with previous cost-benefit surveys conducted by the University of Bern’s Centre for Research in Economics of Education. The aim is to identify cyclical and structural factors that may explain differences in cost-benefit ratios between surveys and to distinguish such factors from those associated with the configuration of VET programmes and the VET reform process.

The report, together with detailed assessments of the most common apprenticeship occupations, is available from this website.


The aims of this research project require both aggregate and average estimates of cost-benefit parameters for apprenticeship training. A representative survey needs to be conducted for the whole of Switzerland in order to take these benchmarks into account and ensure comparability with the previous three cost-benefit surveys. As in previous surveys, the Business and Enterprise Register (BER) of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) will be used.

Data for the fourth cost-benefit survey will be collected using an online questionnaire (d, f, i). The total sample for this survey is 6,000 companies: a total of 3,000 companies that do not train apprentices and 3,000 companies that train apprentices will be asked to fill out the online questionnaire. In all linguistic regions, companies will be able to call a hotline for any questions that they may have concerning the research project and the questionnaire.

Calculation of cost-benefit parameters will be based on the same cost model as the one used in the previous three cost-benefit surveys. The final report for the fourth cost-benefit study of apprenticeship training from the companys’ standpoint in Switzerland will be released in autumn 2019.

Transfer into practice