The legal basis for SFIVET can be found in the Federal Act of 13 December 2002 on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPETA, SR 412.10). Art. 48 para. 2 VPETA establishes that the Confederation shall promote vocational pedagogy by establishing a higher education institution responsible for the following:
- providing basic and continuing training of VET and PET professionals, particularly VET teachers, insofar as this does not overlap with similar activities carried out by the Cantons;
- carrying out research, studies, pilot projects and providing services relating to the VET, PET and job-related CET sectors.
VPETA also stipulates that several locations must be established in order to better serve the needs of the Cantons and Switzerland's linguistic regions (Art. 48 para. 4).
Based on VPETA, the Federal Council adopted the Ordinance of 14 September 2005 on the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET Ordinance, SR 412.106.1), which more specifically describes SFIVET’s management structure and activities.
Subject to Federal Council approval, the SFIVET Board issues the implementing provisions on study programmes, tuition fees and personnel.