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In: Handbook of the Economics of Education


  • Wolter, Stefan C.
  • Ryan, Paul


Apprenticeship varies greatly across countries, in terms of both quantity (numbers trained) and quality (skill content); and across sectors and occupations within countries, in terms of its provision and finance by employers. This chapter outlines recent advances in both areas. Some firms engage in apprenticeship training, others do not; some of those that do, invest in their apprentices, whereas others make a surplus on them. Despite the advances of the last two decades, there is as yet no "general theory" to explain the full range of financial attributes seen in practice within, let alone between, countries. Indeed recent theoretical efforts have focused excessively on specific circumstances in occupational labor markets, and neglected the potential sensitivity of their conclusions to changes in assumptions about labor markets, for both skilled workers and trainees. We also consider evaluations of the benefits of apprenticeship for individuals. Finally, the chapter considers the coordination mechanisms, principally employer bodies (associations, chambers) and employee representation and social partnership (trade unions, works councils, and joint regulatory bodies). Economic analysis indicates various ways in which such institutions may affect economic efficiency. Diversity of institutions across the countries with successful apprenticeship systems suggests, however, that there is no unique recipe for success.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolter, Stefan C. & Ryan, Paul, 2011. "Apprenticeship," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 11, pages 521-576, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:educhp:3-11

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    Apprenticeship; Training; Institutions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education


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