A European Perspective
Edited by Catherine Sofer
Chapter 6: Apprenticeship versus vocational school: a comparison of performances
6. Apprenticeship versus vocational school: a comparison of performances Sylvie Mendès and Catherine Sofer 1. INTRODUCTION Do firms value the skills resulting from in-firm training more than those acquired at school? In a number of countries, policies, particularly aimed at reducing youth unemployment, have recently been enacted to facilitate and increase the amount of time spent working in firms in the context of schooling or training programmes. Specific examples include the 1994 ‘School to Work Opportunities Act’ in the USA and the 1995 ‘Modern Apprenticeship Programme’ in Great Britain. The development of apprenticeship in France, which has increased sharply over recent years, is one such policy. The question then arises whether this specific type of learning facilitates transitions from school to work, as some of the German evidence indicates. The low rate of youth unemployment in Germany (in recent years, rather a relatively low rate of youth unemployment) has traditionally been in part attributed to the apprenticeship system. However, other explanations are possible, such as demographic specificities, institutional arrangements which raise the returns to specific human capital for firms, or more generally the benefits from youth employment. Our focus here is not to explain why firms would invest in human capital which is not totally specific (Acemoglu and Pischke, 1999; Harhoff and Kane, 1997; Ryan, 2001). Rather, we concentrate upon the school to work transition of new labour market entrants.1 This chapter is organized as follows. The first section discusses the methods and French results concerning the access to...
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