The transition from compulsory education to upper secondary level is a complex period of change. Depending on the pathway chosen, various factors have a smaller or greater influence on the number of people admitted to post-compulsory education and training. From a systemic point of view, the ideal transition takes place directly in the form of upper secondary level education and training leading to a certificate (basic vocational education and training, academic matura or general education school). The rate of immediate transition to a course leading to certification is, therefore, an indicator of a smooth transition. Comparison of the different population groups’ rates provides information on the equality of opportunities for direct access to upper secondary level.
There are major differences by nationality and place of birth in immediate transition after compulsory education.
Basic vocational education and training is the first choice for all population groups, although people born in Switzerland (both Swiss and foreign nationals) are more likely to opt for this type of education than the other population groups (49% and 48% respectively). With regard to general education and training, this is most likely to be chosen by Swiss nationals, born in Switzerland or abroad (32% and 40%). Regardless of their place of birth, the number of young foreign nationals to start a transitory course of education is proportionately around two times greater than that of Swiss nationals.
Since 2012, rates of students following a general education course have risen in all population groups. A decrease in the rate of pupils having attended a basic vocational training can also be observed among all population groups, with the exception of foreigners born in Switzerland. The percentage of people following a transitional course of education has stayed stable among Swiss nationals born in Switzerland, while among foreign nationals it has increased. The share of people not making an immediate entry into upper secondary level decreased in all three population groups between 2012 and 2018.
The rate of immediate transition to the upper secondary level shows the percentage of school leavers who start post-compulsory education straight away.
School leavers were grouped into the following categories:
1. Transitory courses between lower and upper secondary level
2. Basic vocational education
3. General education courses
4. No immediate entry into upper secondary level
A school leaver is any pupil aged 13 to 20 who was registered for compulsory schooling in the previous year for the last time. Thus, school leavers from year X are pupils who were recorded in year X-1 in lower secondary level or in special education and who have not been recorded since. The following year X, they may have:
- started a transitional course of education not leading to a certificate (10th school year, preparatory school or a pre-apprenticeship). This definition of a transitional course of education is thus more restrictive than that used in surveys such as the Statistics on pupils and students (SDL); or
- started an upper secondary level course leading to a certificate in the form of basic vocational education and training in preparation for a federal VET diploma or federal proficiency certificate or in a school of general education or an academic matura school; or
- they may be absent from the education system (i.e. they were not recorded in the statistics on pupils and students (SDL), although, according to the Population and household statistics (STATPOP), they are still in Switzerland.
The reference population does not include school leavers who:
- were not initially part of the permanent resident population in Switzerland; or
- were following a foreign programme at compulsory school; or
- left Switzerland without starting an education and training course leaving to a certificate at upper secondary level.