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Human Capital Over the Life Cycle

A European Perspective

Edited by Catherine Sofer

Human Capital Over the Life Cycle synthesises comparative research on the processes of human capital formation in the areas of education and training in Europe, in relation to the labour market. The book proposes that one of the most important challenges faced by Europe today is to understand the link between education and training on the one hand and economic and social inequality on the other. The authors focus the analysis on three main aspects of the links between education and social inequality: educational inequality, differences in access to labour markets and differences in lifelong earnings and training.
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Chapter 6: Apprenticeship versus vocational school: a comparison of performances

Sylvie Mendès and Catherine Sofer


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 first job by youths at the CAP level. Some...

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