Federal pilot programme "Pre-vocational apprenticeship training" (INVOL)

Improving the long-term integration of recognized refugees and temporary admitted persons into the labor market.

Federal pilot programme "Pre-vocational apprenticeship training" (INVOL)

Improving the long-term integration of recognized refugees and temporary admitted persons into the labor market.

Contact details

Submitted by: Tsewang Tsering, Integration specialist, Integration Division, State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Switzerland

Email: [email protected]           

Website: www.sem.admin.ch/invol

Introduction to the project




2018-2021 (4 year pilot) / extension until 2024


In August 2018, a pilot programme of the project was launched in 18 out of 26 cantons. In collaboration with cantons, professional organisations, and vocational education and training institutions, the programme is designed to sustainably improve the long-term integration of recognized refugees and temporary admitted persons into the labor market. The precise target group is people having work experience or training in their country of origin.

It provides an "integration pre-apprenticeship" that prepares, in 12 months, 800 to 1000 people per year. A hands-on training course on basic vocational education and the labor market is given. The programme aims to foster the potential of these workers and reduce their dependency on social assistance/subsidies.

The project is run and managed by Vocational Education and Training (VET) offices of the 18 participating cantons. Professional organisations act as project partners and vocational schools act as operational partners. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) establishes the necessary conditions and provides support and guidance where needed.

The confederation funds the implementation in the cantons with CHF 13’000 per participant (total of 3’600 participants over a four-year program-period). The remaining cost for a one-year pre-VET is covered by the respective canton.

Project aims

Short-term: acquisition of basic competencies in a given occupational field in preparation for enrolment in a VET programme.

Medium-term: apprenticeship leading to Fed. Vocational Certificate or Diploma.

Long-term: integration into the labour market as a qualified worker and financial self-sufficiency.

Main activities of the Good Practice

Pre-vocational training:


  • One-year preparatory training to facilitate enrolment in a dual-track VET programme.
  • Possible in most occupational fields.
  • In-company training (usually 3 days a week).
  • Teaching of practical and scholastic competencies in a given occupational field (organised and run by the cantons).
  • Acquisition of methodological, social and personal competencies with emphasis on cultural aspects.
  • Continuous occupation-related language classes.
  • 800 –1000 places a year.

Scheme and procedure of the pre-VET program:


  1. The canton defines the prerequisites for the pre-VET programme.
  2. A potential assessment of the refugees and temporarily admitted persons is conducted by the canton. Those who meet the requirements (education or working experience in the country of origin / sufficient language skills) will be admitted to the program.
  3. Participants enter to the pre-VET where they have an assigned coach.
  4. In the pre-VET, participants attend two days of school per week (methodological, social and personal skills, practical training and language training (related to the professional field of the VET). They also receive an on-the-job training (three days per week) in a business or company.
  5. The whole program (language courses, scholastic elements, on-the-job training) is related to a specific professional field.
  6. Participants also attend an application training course to facilitate the entry into a regular VET after the 1-year pre-VET.
  7. At the end of the year, participants receive a confirmation for their participation and ideally begin a regular VET programme.


  • Cantons (Vocational Education and Training (VET) offices)
  • Professional organisations (trade associations / branch organisations)

How challenges were overcome

Development of the programme:

  • Extensive preparatory work to develop the basics of the program and to set up the cooperation with the program-partners: cantons, professional organisations (trade associations/ branch organisations), companies.

Implementation of the programme:

  • Extensive efforts by the cantons to find enough placements in companies for the on-the-job training: information campaigns and material by confederation, cantons and professional organisations.
  • Smaller cantons with fewer participants have difficulties to set up specific classes for a professional field. Solution: mix-up classes with participants from professional branches that are related to one-another.
  • Ideally, the companies that provide a position for a pre-VET participant will subsequently offer a regular VET to that person. Thus, in most cases the company will not be available for the pre-VET program for the duration of the regular VET. 

Results of the Good Practice 

We received first positive feedbacks from the cantons concerning the first pre-VET class (Aug ’18 – Jun ’19), but there are no consolidated results yet.

An evaluation by Berne University of Teacher Education PH Bern is ongoing. We expect to publish first results of the program by the end of 2019.

Main elements of this evaluation are:

  • Implementation by the cantons
  • Short- and long-term effects of the pre-vocational training
  • Comparison of different models
  • Identification of best practices
  • Develop recommendations for improvement