In order for a company to undertake training of an apprentice they need to be formally approved. Typical requirements are that they have minimum one employee, which has obtained an upper secondary VET qualification within the occupation that the apprentice wishes to be trained in and that the company can meet the requirements specified in the training plan including equipment requirements. In order to start training the company and the apprentice have to sign an apprenticeship contract, which is legally binding for both parties. Two or more companies may typically be able to share an apprentice, which can be an opportunity for example for highly specialised companies. Apprentices learn by working on actual tasks in a real work environment with other colleagues being supervised and supported by the trainer as needed.
The apprentice spends 80% of their apprenticeship in a company. Therefore, companies that engage in apprenticeship training have to fulfil certain prerequisites. These are certified by the Apprenticeship Office in collaboration with the Chamber of Labour. Companies can collaborate and form training alliances if they cannot provide every aspect of a training regulation. Apprenticeship training in companies is held under real-life working conditions. The apprentice and the training company sign a contract for the period of the training relationship.
Between two thirds and three quarters of a VET program is provided in a company. All companies are approved by the relevant trade committee to ensure that the training environment is appropriate and that there are qualified trainers available. If an apprentice has not signed a contract, they may start their company training in a Centre of Placement.
To offer training a company has to fulfil legal requirements which are examined by the competent bodies. The apprentices spend three to four days a week in the company in average. It is also possible to alternate blocks of several weeks duration. The company is responsible for the way the in-company training is designed and implemented.
Training companies offering apprenticeship positions must be in possession of a training authorisation awarded by the competent Employer’s chamber in accordance with the Employees chamber. It is subject to a certain number of requirements relating among others to the age and qualification of the company’s holder and training tutors. Apprenticeship advisors are responsible for supervising the apprenticeship in companies and to mediate in the case of litigations between the company and the apprentice.
In Switzerland most apprentices are trained in a real work environment with actual tasks. Companies need to apply for VET accreditation issued by the canton, and it must be awarded before taking on an apprentice. Most VET programmes are of the dual-track variety (for example part-time classroom instruction at a vocational school combined with a part-time apprenticeship at a host company).