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How firms' participation in apprenticeship training fosters knowledge diffusion and innovation


  • Christian Rupietta

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Uschi Backes-Gellner

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)


Previous studies typically relate apprenticeship training or more generally Vocational Education and Training (VET) to training that is highly specific and that uses well-established technologies. Accordingly, apprenticeship training is typically not expected to have positive effects on innovation. In contrast, we argue in this paper that the type of dual apprenticeship training seen in Switzerland (or Germany) does create positive innovation effects due to these VET-systems' built-in and institutionalized curriculum development and updating processes. These processes ensure that firms participating in apprenticeship training gain access to knowledge that is close to the innovation frontier and that ultimately fosters innovation. We provide theoretical explanations of how this knowledge diffusion works and how it can help to generate innovation in participating firms. We use the Swiss VET system as one example and derive hypotheses about the relationship between firms' participation in apprenticeship training and their innovation outcomes. Empirical analyses support our hypotheses. In a VET system with a built-in curriculum-updating process like the one in Switzerland (or Germany), firms participating in apprenticeship training have higher innovation outcomes than do non- participating firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Rupietta & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2012. "How firms' participation in apprenticeship training fosters knowledge diffusion and innovation," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0074, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised May 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0074

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
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    4. Howitt, Peter & Aghion, Philippe, 2006. "Appropriate Growth Policy: A Unifying Framework," Scholarly Articles 4554121, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Daron Acemoglu, 1997. "Training and Innovation in an Imperfect Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 445-464.
    6. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
    7. Frietsch, Rainer & Rammer, Christian & Schubert, Torben & Bührer, Susanne & Neuhäusler, Peter, 2012. "Innovationsindikator 2012," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, volume 127, number 110556.
    8. repec:fth:prinin:455 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Stefan C. Wolter & Samuel Mühlemann & Jürg Schweri, 2006. "Why Some Firms Train Apprentices and Many Others Do Not," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7, pages 249-264, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hinz, Tina, 2016. "Personnel policy adjustments when apprentice positions are unfilled: Evidence from German establishment data," Discussion Papers 99, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    2. Rinawi, Miriam & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2013. "Should I stay or should I go? - The Effect of Performance Pay on the Retention of Apprenticeship Graduates," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80024, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2014. "Benefits of Apprenticeship Training and Recent Challenges - Empirical Results and Lessons from Switzerland and Germany," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0097, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    4. Christian Rupietta & Harald Pfeifer & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2017. "Firms' knowledge acquisition during dual-track VET: Which sources are important for innovativeness?," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0131, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    5. Eggenberger, Christian & Rinawi, Miriam & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2018. "Occupational specificity: A new measurement based on training curricula and its effect on labor market outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 97-107.
    6. Christian Rupietta & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2013. "Combining knowledge stock and knowledge flow to generate superior incremental innovation performance - Evidence from Swiss manufacturing," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0089, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Apr 2017.
    7. Thomas Bolli & Ursula Renold & Martin Woerter, 2015. "Vertical Educational Diversity and Innovation Performance," KOF Working papers 15-395, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.

    More about this item


    Vocational education; knowledge diffusion; education systems; innovation; empirical analysis; innovation policy;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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