Swiss VET – A Successful Model and its Sacrifices on the Balance of Power Between Company- and School-Based VET in the Political Governance of the Transition to Upper-Secondary Level in Switzerland
- 1. School of Education, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW)
Purpose. In the past, Switzerland’s VET policy highly fostered the integration of youths at the lower end of the academic performance range. Against the increasing competition for high-achieving youths among general and vocational education at the upper-secondary level, today an important issue is the attraction of high-achieving youths to company-based VET. While the latter has a strong support in Switzerland, school-based VET programmes receive only little attention. This study investigates the role of such school-based VET programmes, which explicitly target high-achieving young people, in the political governance of the transition to upper-secondary education in Switzerland.
Approach. The study relies on the theoretical background of the Economy of Conventions and is based on cantonal case studies. Qualitative document analysis and interviews with actors of the cantonal education administration form the data sources. The data are analysed by a combination of theory-based qualitative content analysis and argumentation-analytical strategies.
Results. In both cantons studied the quantitative development of VMS was purposefully limited as targeted attempts to control the competition among school- and company-based VET regarding high-achieving youths. By doing so, the balance of power between company-based VET and school-based VET can be reproduced and the status of company-based VET as the unquestioned standard protected.
Conclusion. Overarching, the results emphasise that the distribution of youths across different education programmes cannot solely be understood as the result of individual decisions, but also of targeted steering interventions in the context of the political governance of transitions.