Apprenticeships and training
Apprenticeship systems vary widely across countries. In Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, 45–70% of those aged 16–19 participate in apprenticeships as part of a dual education system that combines work-based and school-based learning. Apprentices make up nearly 4% of the workforce in these countries and also in Australia, where apprenticeships have quadrupled in recent decades. England is rapidly catching up, with apprenticeships increasing threefold and incorporating occupations in business, banking, and the creative arts. In Belgium, France, and the US there has been little penetration into occupations outside construction and manufacturing.
Why spending on occupational skills can yield economic returns to employersRobert Lerman, October 2019Economists have long believed that firms will not pay to develop occupational skills that workers could use in other, often competing, firms. Researchers now recognize that firms that invest in apprenticeship training generally reap good returns. Evidence indicates that financial returns to firms vary. Some recoup their investment within the apprenticeship period, while others see their investment pay off only after accounting for reduced turnover, recruitment, and initial training costs. Generally, the first year of apprenticeships involves significant costs, but subsequently, the apprentice's contributions exceed his/her wages and supervisory costs. Most participating firms view apprenticeships as offering certainty that all workers have the same high level of expertise and ensuring an adequate supply of well-trained workers to cover sudden increases in demand and to fill leadership positions.MoreLess
As they do not lead to high-productivity jobs, apprenticeships in sub-Saharan Africa fail to generate high incomesFrancis Teal, June 2016Apprenticeships are the most common form of non-academic training in sub-Saharan Africa. Most apprenticeships are provided by the private sector, for a fee, and lead to self-employment rather than to wage jobs. Where the effects have been measured, they show that earnings are not higher, on average, for people who did an apprenticeship than for those who did not. This presents a conundrum. Why would people pay for apprenticeship training that does not benefit them? Research reveals that apprenticeships do benefit some people more than others. Especially striking is that the returns to apprenticeships can fall with the level of education.MoreLess
Firm-sponsored training benefits both workers and firms through higher wages, increased productivity and innovationBenoit Dostie, April 2015Workers participating in firm-sponsored training receive higher wages as a result. But given that firms pay the majority of costs for training, shouldn’t they also benefit? Empirical evidence shows that this is in fact the case. Firm-sponsored training leads to higher productivity levels and increased innovation, both of which benefit the firm. Training can also be complementary to, and enhance, other types of firm investment, particularly in physical capital, such as information and communication technology (ICT), and in organizational capital, such as the implementation of high-performance workplace practices.MoreLess
Systems combining structured learning on the job with classroom training can ease youth unemploymentWerner Eichhorst, January 2015Youth unemployment has increased in many industrialized countries following the recent global recession. However, this reflects not only the cyclical shock, but also the crucial role of institutions in structuring the transition from school to work. Vocational training, in particular in a dual form combining vocational schooling and structured learning on-the-job, is often considered to be one of the most important policy solutions in combating youth unemployment. The evidence available supports this perception, but the institutional requirements of a successful training system also have to be taken into account from a policy perspective.MoreLess