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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in adult education and training


12.Educational support and guidance

12.7Support measures for learners in adult education and training

Last update: 27 November 2023

Definition of Target Group(s)

Disadvantaged groups

Not all Swiss adults have sufficient basic reading and writing skills, mastery of the local official language, everyday arithmetic or knowledge in dealing with information and communication technologies. These individuals cannot participate fully in society and the world of work. They have, for instance, only a very limited access to continuing education and training programmes. In its 2003 recommendations on continuing education and training for adults, the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) recommended that the cantons support or create specific programmes for groups who are disadvantaged as regards training as a result of their personal circumstances.

Many players (CET umbrella organisations, provider networks, stakeholders from the social sector, research institutions) are committed to the promotion of basic skills, especially in reading and writing. The promotion of basic skills for adults is to be explicitly enshrined in the new Act on CET


Adults with a migrant background

The cantonal and communal counselling services for integration offer information and personal counselling for migrants.


People with disabilities

A number of specialist organisations and local and regional organisations offer specific support measures for persons with disabilities. Professional integration of persons with disabilities is a key goal of Invalidity Insurance. It provides comprehensive services in this area.


Specific Support Measures

Disadvantaged groups

Many players are involved in the promotion of basic skills. The basic skills project network, for instance, is targeting the promotion of language skills in vocational and professional education and training, raising the awareness of intermediaries and managers in companies, promoting of everyday adult arithmetic skills and improving CET programmes, and generally raising awareness of the issue of basic skills in society. The following support measures are currently being offered or developed:

  • Illiteracy: illiteracy describes the situation of a person who has attended school but cannot read, write or do maths properly. The Swiss umbrella organisation for reading and writing and the network against illiteracy launched by the Federal Office of Culture commit to this area in a number of different ways, offering inter alia courses in reading and writing and a counselling service for those concerned.
  • Local official language: programmes to improve the ability to communicate in the local official language and to read and understand texts written in the local official language are offered in particular for adults with a migrant background. There are language courses for migrants in all Swiss regions. The number of lessons, learning contents, methods and learning speed differ in the individual courses. Literacy courses are also offered for people who either have not learned to write or do not know the Latin alphabet. Increasingly programmes are specially directed at women, some also only at mothers.
  • Everyday arithmetic: targeted support for adults who have problems with everyday arithmetic is a major challenge for those involved in CET. The conceptual basis to develop a programme geared to this target group inter alia did not previously exist in Switzerland. Against this background, in 2008 the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss national Umbrella Organisation for Adult Education (SVEB) drafted a position paper which develops the topic of everyday arithmetic and contains methodological and didactic bases for the promotion of everyday arithmetic skills.
  • Information and communication technologies (ICT): in the work context in particular the acquisition of ICT skills has become imperative, as jobs which do not require ICT skills become increasingly rare. The SVEB is currently developing a concept for the promotion of labour-market-oriented basic skills of job seekers in the ICT sector.

The SVEB keeps a list of projects to promote the low-skilled. Mention should also be made of the opportunities to catch up a qualification in the upper secondary level


People with disabilities

So-called ‘education clubs’ offer CET courses for adults with an intellectual disability or a learning difficulty. Education clubs are offered by specialist organisations for persons with disabilities and by a range of local and regional organisations.

Invalidity Insurance pays inter alia the additional costs of initial training (e.g. an apprenticeship or attendance of an upper secondary school or university) incurred by the insured because of their disability. Invalidity Insurance also assumes the costs of retraining if, due to permanent damage to health, insured persons can no longer exercise their current activity or can only do so under extreme conditions. This includes the costs of food, accommodation and travel.

In the case of state-run CET programmes the Confederation, cantons and communes are required, within the framework of their competences, to offer their services to the public in a non-discriminatory manner. Private providers are only required to protect people with disabilities against discrimination. They are not forced to adapt their programmes to the needs of people with disabilities.