Vocational qualifications for adults: employers’ perspective

Adults without any qualifications struggle to find a job on the Swiss labour market. They are significantly more likely to be unemployed, to depend on social welfare or to work in poorly paid jobs. At the same time, there is a shortage of skilled workers in several sectors.

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This study analyses the perceived need of employers and employer associations for vocational qualifications for adults and answers the following key questions relating to this topic:

  1. Do employers and employer associations see a need for more vocational qualifications for adults who lack upper-secondary level qualifications?
  2. What economic benefits can be gained by providing support to adults seeking vocational qualifications (as opposed to helping young learners to do so)?
  3. How do companies assess the potential of their workers who lack upper-secondary level qualifications to earn a Federal VET Certificate or Diploma? What characterises these workers?
  4. Under what circumstances and in what form would employers be willing to support adults seeking vocational qualifications?
  5. What experiences have employers already had with vocational training of adults?

This study focuses on employers associations, which initiate and design programmes enabling adults to obtain vocational qualifications in their occupational field. At the same time, the study also focuses on employers, which are able to identify and support potential candidates.


The key pillars of the study are qualitative interviews with experts from the private sector – selected according to a range of different criteria. As a complement to this, analysis of available documentation and data will be carried out. This will entail secondary analysis of data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), which has been monitoring the number of vocational qualifications for adults and fluctuations over the past few years – broken down according to four education and training pathways. The study also includes analysis of publically available documents (e.g. brochures, webpages, etc.) to determine whether employer representatives have already given thought to the topic of vocational qualifications for adults and if so, to what extent. This blend of methodologies will provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of affairs. At the same time, it will deliver information on the target situation, from the perspective of employers. The results of the qualitative interviews, the secondary analysis and analysis of documentation will then be validated in regionally organised stakeholder workshops.

Practical benefits

The findings from this study should help to identify gaps in relevant data on holders of vocational qualifications for adults and to provide important indications on employer perspectives. In order to develop and coordinate programmes enabling adults to obtain vocational qualifications, it is also important to gain a detailed and comprehensive understanding of needs and experiences associated with vocational qualifications for adults and to take these into account.