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Different Types of IT Skills in Occupational Training Curricula and Labor Market Outcomes


  • Fabienne Kiener

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

  • Ann-Sophie Gnehm

    (University of Zurich, Institute of Sociology)

  • Simon Clematide

    (University of Zurich, Institute of Computational Linguistics)

  • Uschi Backes-Gellner

    (University of Zurich)


Due to an increasing diffusion of information technologies (IT), the labor market requires more and more so-called “IT skills”. Recent studies confirm that IT skills are relevant for individual labor market outcomes. However, so far researchers do not use a consistent definition and measure of IT skills. In our paper, we distinguish different types of IT skills that may lead to structurally different labor market out-comes like wages. To measure these different types of IT skills, we propose an innovative way of measuring skills based on training curricula of apprenticeship occupations. We use modern computational linguistics methods, i.e. a topic model-ling algorithm called Non-Negative Matrix Factorization. By doing so, we identify different types of IT skills like e.g. implementing ICT (Information and Communi-cations Technologies), developing applications, designing webpages or installing software, handling system technology, CNC (Computerized Numerical Control), CAD (Computer-Aided Design), and handling control technology. Our results show that although IT skills in general have a positive effect on wages, different types of IT skills are associated with differing labor market returns, e.g. general digital skills like ICT and developing applications relate to higher wages than technology-specific IT skills like handling system technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabienne Kiener & Ann-Sophie Gnehm & Simon Clematide & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2019. "Different Types of IT Skills in Occupational Training Curricula and Labor Market Outcomes," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0159, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0159

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Deming & Lisa B. Kahn, 2018. "Skill Requirements across Firms and Labor Markets: Evidence from Job Postings for Professionals," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S1), pages 337-369.
    2. Wiederhold, Simon & Falck, Oliver & Heimisch, Alexandra, 2015. "Returns to ICT Skills," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112803, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Grimmer, Justin & Stewart, Brandon M., 2013. "Text as Data: The Promise and Pitfalls of Automatic Content Analysis Methods for Political Texts," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(03), pages 267-297, June.
    4. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel, 2006. "Do We Need Computer Skills to Use a Computer? Evidence from Britain," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(3), pages 505-532, September.
    5. John E. DiNardo & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303.
    6. 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.
    7. Catherine J. Weinberger, 2014. "The Increasing Complementarity between Cognitive and Social Skills," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 849-861, December.
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    9. Janssen, Simon & Mohrenweiser, Jens, 2018. "The Shelf Life of Incumbent Workers during Accelerating Technological Change: Evidence from a Training Regulation Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 11312, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
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    12. Jansen, Anika & de Grip, Andries & Kriechel, Ben, 2017. "The effect of choice options in training curricula on the demand for and supply of apprentices," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 52-65.
    13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:132:y:2017:i:4:p:1593-1640. is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item


    IT skills; information technologies; apprenticeship; training; curricula;

    JEL classification:

    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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