FVB – Education trajectories, challenges and potential

The federal vocational baccalaureate (FVB) is a success story. Since its introduction, it has greatly increased the proportion of baccalaureate holders in Switzerland and significantly facilitated access to higher education for holders of vocational qualifications. In recent years, however, FVB graduation rates have stagnated and, depending on the occupational field and type of FVB, even declined slightly.

Happy teens preparing for exams in university campus
Adobe Stock/Prostock-studio

The aim of this study was to identify current FVB-related challenges and potential and provide this information to VET stakeholders, federal and cantonal authorities, professional organisations and interested experts. For the first time, we studied the impact of the chosen VET-occupation on the probability of participating in a preparatory course for the FVB and the extent to which the FVB is then used to gain access to tertiary education (level A). We also presented new findings from the cost-benefit study, which shed light on host company perspectives of the FVB. We also focussed on cantonal differences in the proportion of young people who obtain a general or vocational baccalaureate, respectively, and discussed measures to allow for greater flexibility in FVB training options, which were introduced to improve its overall positioning.


In this fourth trend report, five chapters were devoted to analysis of current developments and challenges in relation to the FVB.

  • Using the longitudinal data from the modernised education statistics from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), we tracked the education trajectories of young people over a period of five years (2012-2017). We tracked apprentices from completion of compulsory education to their Federal Diploma of Vocational Education and Training and from their Federal Diploma of Vocational Education and Training towards their enrolment in tertiary education. Particular attention was paid to differences between occupations and cantons. What factors favour successful completion of an FVB preparatory course and the transition to enrolment in tertiary education? What differences exist between occupations and between cantons?
  • Based on data from the cost-benefit analysis, we analysed the perspectives of host companies with regard to apprentices who attend the FVB preparatory course in parallel to their workplace training (FVB1). In order to ensure that the FVB1 remains tenable, host companies’ willingness to hire apprentices who attend the FVB preparatory course in parallel to their workplace training is crucial. Because the FVB1 effectively reduces the amount of working time spent at the host company, the host company derives less benefit from the productive output of FVB1 learners than of apprentices who do not attend the FVB preparatory course. How do companies assess the cost-benefit ratio of FVB1 learners compared to apprentices who do not attend an FVB preparatory course during their training? What benefits do host companies derive from FVB1 learners? How do these companies differ from companies that do not provide workplace training to FVB1 learners?
  • Given stagnating or declining FVB1 graduations, all schools that offer FVB preparatory courses have had the option to offer more flexible FVB models since 2017.  The earlier or later completion of sub-subjects and the possibility of a staggered beginning of the FVB1 and workplace training should reduce the burden on learners and make the FVB1 more appealing for host companies. We showed how these approaches are used and discussed the pedagogical potential of these flexibility options and other FVB design models.

More detailed information on the data can be found in the methodology report (in German).


The results of the trend report were presented at the OBS symposium on 29 October 2020. They were also presented and discussed in the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate Commission (EBMK) in order to identify potential for the further adaptation of the ordinance and the core syllabus for the vocational baccalaureate. SFUVET led two large group workshops as part of a steering committee established by the SBBK's Commission for Vocational Education and Training (KBG). Over a hundred VET stakeholders from from all over Switzerland attended these in these workshops to discuss and identify ways to support the vocational baccalaureate. On this basis, the KBG decided to set up two working groups to work on the selected FVB-related topics as well as support measures that may be taken during preparation for the FVB examination.

Transfer into practice