Continuing education targets adults already in employment who wish to extend their range of professional skills. It also addresses job-seekers and persons wishing to retrain in the watch sector. Courses are delivered by specialised training centres.

Advanced vocational training

© Centre Interrégional de Perfectionnement, Tramelan (CIP)

Adult training is aimed at three categories of persons: adults who are already employed in the watch sector and wish to develop their skills, adult job-seekers, and adults working in another sector who wish to retrain and work in the watch sector. The various options are as follows:

  1. Professional development:
    A number of training centres offer professional development courses in polishing techniques.
    The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie delivers training in sales techniques and basic knowledge of watchmaking to sales and marketing professionals.
  2. Continuing education:
    In the watch sector, the following courses can be grouped under continuing education for adults:

    • hand-chamferer
    • polisher (federal VET certificate)
    • surface finisher (federal VET diploma)

  3. Modular training:
    Several training centres provide modular training under the supervision of the Convention Patronale de l’Industrie Horlogère Suisse, which is the Swiss watch industry employers' association, in the following professions:

    • watch fitter (federal VET certificate)
    • Production Watchmaker CFC
    • polisher (federal VET certificate)

Formal attestation of experience/learning

Adults wishing to obtain a vocational qualification have several options open to them. One possibility for adults who do not hold a federal VET certificate or diploma is to validate skills and knowledge gained through on-the-job training and at least five years' experience. So far, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) has approved conditions required for such formal attestation in 20 professions. In the watch sector, these are:

  • Mechanical operator Federal VET certificate (conditions approved January 1st 2011)
  • Production mechanic (conditions approved April 10th 2014)
  • Polymechanic (conditions approved January 1st 2012)

There are no apprenticeship conditions required to obtain validation of prior experience or learning. Source: State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)

Also: Adults who have successfully completed initial vocational training and who wish to retrain in a new area can complete the second training course in one year less than normal (see initial vocational training for young people).

Advanced vocational training

© Fabien Nissels, Haute École Arc, Neuchâtel

Advanced vocational training qualifies individuals to practice complex professions with a high level of responsibility.

  1. Holders of a federal VET diploma with several years' on-the-job experience can obtain formal attestation of their skills by sitting the federal professional education and training diploma (brevet fédéral) in their area of specialisation. This will qualify them for jobs with a higher level of responsibility.

  2. Courses at higher vocational colleges (écoles supérieures) are open to holders of a federal VET diploma or an equivalent qualification. In watchmaking, they lead to a federal technician's diploma. These tertiary-level courses can immediately follow on from initial vocational training or be taken after several years' on-the-job experience.

  3. Universities of applied sciences (hautes écoles spécialisées) propose Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes. They are open to holders of a federal VET diploma plus a vocational school-leaving certificate or baccalaureate (maturité professionnelle) as well as to holders of a school-leaving certificate or baccalaureate (maturité gymnasiale) who have one year's experience in their chosen specialisation. Universities of applied sciences engage in applied research and development, and play a vital role in knowledge transfer. As part of continuing education, holders of a Bachelor's degree can study for a Masters of Advanced Studies. (Source: State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI))

  4. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is acknowledged as a centre of excellence in research and study in hard science, engineering and architecture. Holders of a federally-recognised school-leaving certificate or baccalaureate (maturité gymnasiale) or a Swiss Bachelor's degree from a university of applied sciences enrol directly in the first year of their chosen Bachelor's programme. Holders of a Swiss vocational school-leaving certificate or baccalaureate (maturité professionnelle) who are at least 25 years old should first apply for the CMS preparatory course.(Source : EPFL)

Also : Holders of a Swiss school-leaving certificate (maturité gymnasiale) can enrol on a Bachelor's programme at a university of applied sciences after one year's on-the-job experience in their chosen field, or in the first-year Bachelor's programme at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.