Continuing education and training (CET) in Switzerland is mainly privately organised and privately funded. According to an extrapolation CET expenditure amounted to CHF 5.3 (€ 4.4) billion in Switzerland in 2007. 40% is paid by participants themselves. Employers fund just under one-third. They support staff CET by organising in-company courses, paying a share of the costs of external courses or giving staff time off for CET.
The Confederation and cantons play a subsidiary role as regards CET. They intervene where the targeted objectives and impacts would not be achieved without a relevant regulation or promotion measure. In the case of public subsidisation the receipt of contributions is often tied to compliance with certain criteria (e.g. quality assurance measures).
Under the Federal Constitution (Article 64a) the Confederation may promote continuing education and training. In the Bundesgesetz über die Weiterbildung (Weiterbildungsgesetz) [Federal Act on Continuing Education and Training], the Confederation is laying down principles and promotion criteria for CET. Under the Bundesgesetz über die Berufsbildung (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBG) [Federal Act on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act, VPETA)], the Confederation promotes job-related CET. The cantons regulate CET in their own legislation and in the cantonal vocational and professional education and training acts as a rule. The funding and contribution criteria of the cantonal legislation are structured differently.
Fees Paid by Learners
The fees for continuing education and training events diﬀer according to CET type, length and provider. The providers ﬁx the fees. According to the Swiss Education Report 2018 people spend just under CHF 700 (€ 642) of their own money on CET on average per annum in the form of direct costs. Persons with a tertiary education spend a lot more on CET at just under CHF 1000 (€ 917) on average, while persons with low qualifications only spend about half that amount.
Financial Support for Adult Learners
Support through employers
In job-related CET companies generally support their employees by organising the courses or allowing time and/or providing ﬁnancial resources for attendance. According to the Swiss Education Report 2018 over 80% of all Swiss companies (small companies of up to nine employees are not considered) support continued education and training activities. However, very few companies actively promote proficiency in basic skills. Companies involved in the provision of continuing education and training spent just under CHF 700 (€ 642) on average per employee in 2015. Measured against persons who took part in CET, it’s just under CHF 1500 (€1376). However, companies often support their employees with a combination of contributions to CET costs and working time; the value of the latter is not included in the figure of CHF 1500 (€1376).
The cantons may award grants or student loans, although they tend to be reluctant to do so in the field of continuing education and training. The conditions governing educational allowances are regulated differently by canton.
If an upper secondary-level leaving certificate has been obtained, the Federal Act on the Taxation of Job-Related Training and CET Costs (link to Chapter 15, Financing) provides that all job-related training and CET costs and voluntary retraining costs may be claimed as a tax deduction up to a maximum amount of CHF 12 000 (€ 11 009). The cantons may set their own maximum amounts.
Education vouchers are promotion instruments whereby the state grants vouchers which may be redeemed through a CET provider. Since 2001 the canton of Geneva has been awarding a Chèque annuel de formation  (CAF) (CET voucher) worth a maximum CHF 750 (€ 688) to adults with low or average annual income which may be used for CET. Training must be carried out with an accredited provider and be of professional beneﬁt.
CET courses are primarily provided by the private sector. Course providers are responsible for defining contents and qualifications, funding and fees. This leads to flexible and highly market-oriented courses.
Providers can receive contributions from the public sector. No figures are available nationally on the number of institutions benefited or the share or amount of funding from the public sector. The receipt of public contributions is largely tied to compliance with certain criteria (e.g. adequate quality development measures).