Phillipp Gonon and Lorenzo Bonoli

Keynote Video

Lorenzo Bonoli

Lorenzo Bonoli is senior researcher and head of MSc program at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training in Lausanne and Zollikofen (Bern).

His research interests include systemic issues and historical evolution of the Swiss VET system, international issues of VET, comparison of international VET systems, epistemology of social sciences, discourse analysis.

Philipp Gonon

Philipp Gonon is Professor of Vocational Education and Training at the Zurich University, where he teaches vocational pedagogy, history and theory of  (vocational) education, quality assurance and program evaluation at the graduate and undergraduate level. From 1986 until 1992 he was research assistant and lecturer at the Institute of Pedagogy of the University of Bern, Switzerland where he finished his postdoctoral lecturer qualification (Habilitation) in 1997. From 1999 until 2004, Gonon served as a Full University Professor of Further and Continuing Education at the University of Trier in Germany. Since 2004, he has taught at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Internationally Philipp Gonon is known as an expert on international comparative education, the apprenticeship and work-based learning, the Swiss VET system and on the German pedagogue, Georg Kerschensteiner. He is the author of many scholarly publications.  He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Vocational Education and Training and of Vocations and Learning. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the Universities of Zurich and Berne respectively.


Behind the "Swiss model" of Vocational Education and Training - The evolution of a multi-faceted system, based on cantonal differences

It is an achievement that already in the year 1930 a specific nation-wide regulation for VET has been established in Switzerland. A framework-regulation was the way to focus on minimal standards and guidelines and let space for specific and local solutions. Also the succeeding federal laws since 1930, offered the 26 cantons some room for maneuver in implementing federal provisions at the regional level. This is reflected in sometimes significant differences between the cantons, particularly regarding participation in dual VET. The rates range in fact from 80% of young people in the 15-18 age group in the canton of Inner Appenzell to 21% in the canton of Geneva. How can such differences be understood? When did these differences emerge? And what factors can explain their appearance?

Our contribution will answer these questions by considering a decisive period in the evolution of the Swiss VET, i.e. the period from 1950 to 1970. Although cantonal differences have always existed, it is from this period that we can observe an increase in differences and, above all, a clear separation between the German-speaking cantons, where the rate of apprenticeships remains relatively high, and the Latin cantons, where apprenticeship rates tend to stagnate if not decline.

The aim of our analysis is to identify a series of factors (economic, pedagogical, political and socio-cultural) which influenced cantonal policies in three specific cases (Cantons of Geneva, Zürich and Ticino) during the period under study and which will enable us to explain the origin of the differences we observe today.

Our analysis thus presents several elements of general interest, which go beyond a simple reconstruction of the Swiss VET. Firstly, it allows us to question the unity of the so-called "Swiss model" and to show how behind it lie relatively different policies and conceptions of VET. . Secondly, our research permits us to refine the tools for the comparative analysis of VET systems. The comparative analysis of different cantonal policies within the margins of a common federal law allows us to go in depth into the search for the multiple factors which may explain the adoption of different measures in different cantons. Finally, our approach proposes a diachronic comparative analysis, the aim of which is to explain the differences between VET systems on the basis of the processes that lead to the affirmation of these differences, thereby avoiding the misleading image of static VET systems.

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