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Apprenticeship Training – What for? Investment in Human Capital or Substitute for Cheap Labour?


  • Jens Mohrenweiser

    () (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich)

  • Uschi Backes-Gellner

    () (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich)


Apprenticeship training in Germany is generally considered to be an investment of companies into the human capital of their apprentices. This view is mainly based on the German cost benefit studies which testify training firms high net costs for their apprenticeships, but these results have not been reconfirmed by other types of data or methods. We show that motiva-tions for apprenticeship training are not homogeneous: some firms follow an investment strategy and others follow a substitution strategy. We derive an empirical method to identify different training strategies which can be used with publicly available company data. Accord-ing to our classification, we find that in Germany 18.5 percent of all companies follow a sub-stitution strategy and 43.75 percent to follow an investment strategy; the rest is mixed or un-determined. In a second step we estimate the determinants for a substitution strategy. We find sizeable differences between sectors with different skill requirements and between firms’ cov-erage of industrial relations.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Mohrenweiser & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2008. "Apprenticeship Training – What for? Investment in Human Capital or Substitute for Cheap Labour?," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0017, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0017

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Regina Dionisius & Samuel Muehlemann & Harald Pfeifer & Günter Walden & Felix Wenzelmann & Stefan C. Wolter, 2008. "Cost and Benefit of Apprenticeship Training – A Comparison of Germany and Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 2287, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Busemeyer, Marius R., 2011. "Varieties of cross-class coalitions in the politics of dualization: Insights from the case of vocational training in Germany," MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/13, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    3. Ryan, Paul & Wagner, Karin & Teuber, Silvia & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2011. "Financial aspects of apprenticeship training in Germany, Great Britain an Switzerland / Finanzielle Aspekte der betrieblichen Ausbildung in Deutschland, Großbritannien und der Schweiz," Arbeitspapiere 241, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, Düsseldorf.
    4. Paul Ryan & Uschi Backes-Gellner & Silvia Teuber & Karin Wagner, 2012. "Apprentice pay in Britain, Germany and Switzerland: institutions, market forces, market power," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0075, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    5. Goeggel, Kathrin & Zwick, Thomas, 2009. "Good occupation - bad occupation? The quality of apprenticeship training," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-024, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    6. Mohrenweiser, Jens & Zwick, Thomas, 2009. "Why do firms train apprentices? The net cost puzzle reconsidered," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 631-637, December.
    7. Pahnke, André & Icks, Annette & Kay, Rosemarie, 2013. "Übernahme von Auszubildenden: Betriebsgrößenspezifische Analysen," IfM-Materialien 221, Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn.
    8. Kathrin Göggel & Thomas Zwick, 2012. "Heterogeneous Wage Effects of Apprenticeship Training," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(3), pages 756-779, September.

    More about this item


    Apprenticeship Training; Human Capital Investments; Substitution Effects;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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