Glossary of Vocational and Professional Education and Training


This is the very first English version of the Glossary of Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET). This English version is based on the fourth edition of this reference work in German, French and Italian, which was published in 2013. This reference handbook contains terminology relating to the VPET field.

Although somewhat unassuming due to its very practical small format, its content is nonetheless rich: 231 key terms are explained in as many brief and informative texts. It is also an indispensable publication for people who work in the VET field: e. g. learners, guidance counsellors, vocational school teachers, apprenticeship trainers and other VET professionals.

The form and structure of the glossary have not been substantially altered. We have taken into account all significant changes, added new key terms, removed others and deleted terms that have become obsolete. The English terminology is based on the English versions of federal legislation such as the Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act and its corresponding Ordinance, the Swiss Education Report 2014 and other publications by federal agencies.

Reference handbook containing VPET terminology

The glossary, which has been completely revamped, was first published in August 2005. Since then, over 250 000 copies have been distributed in three national languages. In most cases, this glossary has been accompanied by the "Apprentice-ship Training Manual". Although both go hand in hand, the glossary may be obtained separately.

In order for the glossary to remain a valid reference work, changes have to be made on a regular basis to take into account legal aspects or practical and linguistic uses.

Index of terms and key terms

For your convenience, we have compiled a list of terms used in the VET and PET fields, including those that may be "obsolete" or "incorrect" with cross-references to the 231 key terms that are defined in this edition of the glossary.

Online in four languages

A glossary that may be consulted in four languages online.
You can consult the online version of the glossary by visiting, which allows you to switch from one language to another, from German to English and back again, from French to Italian and so on. This will be of great help for translations.

A joint undertaking

We have prepared the glossary of VPET terms in conjunction
with the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the Swiss Conference of VET Offices (SBBK). The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) have, for their part, reviewed the key terms that fall within their scope of activities. The English version of this glossary was produced within the framework of the "Bilingual VET programmes for the Federal VET Diploma" project (Projet CFC bilingue) conducted by the Office for Vocational Guidance, Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education, Geneva (OFPC).

The English language version of this reference work is inte-resting in two respects. First of all, this is the first time that it has been produced in English. All three of the previous editions were only available in three national languages of Switzerland. This is because English is neither a national language nor the typical working language used by VET professionals in the German-, French- and Italian-speaking cantons of Switzerland. Secondly, the present reference work is part of a common endeavour at national level to introduce and maintain uniform English terminology. The English terms and key terms found here are therefore also used in the English versions of federal legislative texts and publications as well as on websites at both federal and cantonal level.

We hope that you will find this glossary useful in your daily work.

Bern, August 2014

Peter Knutti, Head of VPET Media Division, SDBB