Vocational Education System
Social Status

Improving Recognition

Unrewarding Status of Vocational Education

The dual vocational course of education is by far the most widespread in Switzerland. Switzerland’s significant economic advantages are a result of this system.

The social status of vocational education, however, does not reflect its success and is much lower in comparison to the status of higher education programs.

This low social status can have a negative impact on education policies and the amount of public financial means provided for vocational education.

A trend towards academization already manifests itself, since subjects of vocational education programs are increasingly shifted to universities.

This trend is especially evident in the service industry. Professional qualifications will be titled Bachelor and Master – according to the English model, while the existing, successful dual vocational education system is gradually being abandoned.

Facts and Hypotheses

Firstly, the research project aims at developing appropriate criteria and procedures for measuring the social status of vocational education.

Secondly, these measurements are to be conducted. The results will provide insights into decisive determinants of the vocational education’s social status.

In a further step, the following hypothesis will be examined: the social status of vocational education depends on individual cost-benefit analyses, as well as on certain cultural, social, political and economic conditions.

Another hypothesis suggests that social status highly influences career decisions of students and the recruiting behavior of companies.

Road to Improvement

The research project finally aims at revealing new ways to strengthen the social status of dual vocational education and to avoid its weakening in the public perception.


The project is conducted by the division Education Systems at the Swiss Economic Institute KOF of the ETH Zurich.

The division’s interdisciplinary research team examines the new emphasis in education in the light of globalization, our aging society, and rapid technological development.

Furthermore, the team investigates the characteristics of the most efficient education systems in the world which meet the requirements of the labor market.

From April 2014 to March 2017, the foundation supports the project with an annual fund of CHF 50,000.

Website: www.kof.ethz.ch/de/forschung/projektdatenbank/fbb/fp/08-469