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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.8Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

Vocational education and training (VET)

Teaching at VET schools comprises, on the one hand, career studies teaching which is specific to the occupation, and, on the other, general education teaching which all learners attend according to the same curriculum.

The educational content and performance objectives for vocational education and training (VET) are regulated by the respective VET ordinances and the respective education plan for the different occupations (SBFI Berufsverzeichnis). The ordinances are issued jointly by the Confederation, the cantons and the professional organisations for each occupation and define the core elements of each training profession. The education ordinance stipulates whether, in the relevant occupation, a foreign language is to be learned at the VET school and if so, how many lessons are to be taught per teaching year. The content and objectives of foreign language teaching are laid down in the relevant education plan. The education plan is part of the education ordinance and comprises the educational content and vocational concept for the VET.

General education teaching for all VET programmes is regulated by the SERI Ordinance on the Minimum Regulations for General Education in Vocational Education and Training,  which comprises, amongst others,

  • the allocation of teaching hours for the general education teaching for all occupations:

    • at least 240 lessons in the two-year VET,

    • at least 240 lessons in the two-year VET,

    • at least 480 lessons in the four-year VET;

  • the framework curriculum for general education teaching (Rahmenlehrplan für den allgemein bildenden Unterricht): this contains the learning areas language and communication, as well as society (ethics, identity and socialisation, culture, ecology, politics, law, technology and economics). The framework curriculum provides the framework conditions for the school curricula, which are enacted by the cantons.

The framework curriculum for sports lessons at vocational schools  (Rahmenlehrplan für Sportunterricht in der beruflichen Grundbildung) provides the framework conditions as regards content for sports lessons in the school curricula. Each school day at the VET school learners attend at least one sports lesson.


Federal Vocational Baccalaureate

The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate (Berufsmaturität) comprises the following total teaching times:

  • if completed during a VET programme, training comprises six semesters and follows two organisational models: training integrated in compulsory teaching involves a minimum of 2,160 lessons, while training which supplements compulsory teaching comprises a minimum of 1,440 lessons;

  • if completed as a course after the VET programme, training comprises at least two semesters and a minimum of 1,200 lessons.

Teaching is divided into different areas. In the basic subject area, four subjects are taught in all of the fields. A specialist subject area covers a total of seven subjects; two of these specialist subjects are generally taught in each field. Finally, three subjects are offered in a supplementary area; two of these subjects are usually taught in each field, complementing the subjects in the area of specialisation. The assignment of the subjects to be taught is based on the vocational education and training (VET) and at the same time directed towards the related field of study in the universities of applied sciences.

The following four basic subjects are taught:

  • first national language,

  • second national language,

  • third language,

  • mathematics.


The subjects in the area of specialisation are:

  • finance and accounting

  • design, art, culture

  • information and communication

  • mathematics,

  • natural sciences,

  • social sciences,

  • economics and law.


The subjects in the supplementary area generally complement the subjects in the area of specialisation and include:

  • history and politics,

  • technology and environment,

  • economics and law.


Under the Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA, Article 21), VET schools must stage special courses to take account of the needs of particularly gifted learners (optional subject courses) and learners with learning difficulties (remedial courses). The VET programme may be reduced accordingly in the case of particularly gifted learners or those with previous training, and lengthened accordingly for those with learning difficulties or disabilities (Article 18 of the VPETA).


Teaching methods and materials

The objectives for all three places of learning are stipulated in the relevant VET ordinances and education plans. Training methods and materials, or teaching methods and materials, may in principle be chosen freely. To guarantee uniform teaching of educational content the VET schools and professional organisations have recommendations or instructions relating to the choice of teaching materials.

New training methods are increasingly geared to promoting independent and self-organised, autonomous learning. Competence-oriented learning is replacing the teaching of content based on the usual array of subjects. Teaching materials for career studies are generally developed by the professional organisations. Learners pay fees for personal teaching aids and other materials, which vary depending on the occupational field.