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Did the Bologna Process Challenge the German Apprenticeship System? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Thomsen, Stephan L.
  • Trunzer, Johannes

Abstract

Starting in 1999, the Bologna Process reformed the German five-year study system for a first degree into the three-year bachelor's (BA) system to harmonize study lengths in Europe and improve competitiveness. This reform unintentionally challenged the German apprenticeship system that offers three-year professional training for the majority of school leavers. Approximately 29% of new apprentices are university-eligible graduates from academic-track schools. We evaluate the effects of the Bologna reform on new highly educated apprentices using a generalized difference-in-differences design based on detailed administrative student and labor market data. Our estimates show that the average regional expansion in first-year BA students decreased the number of new highly educated apprentices by 3%-5%; average treatment effects on those indecisive at school graduation range between -18% and -29%. We reveal substantial gender and occupational heterogeneity: males in STEM apprenticeships experienced the strongest negative effects. The reform aggravated the skills shortage in the economy.

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  • Thomsen, Stephan L. & Trunzer, Johannes, 2020. "Did the Bologna Process Challenge the German Apprenticeship System? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," GLO Discussion Paper Series 690, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:690
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    Keywords

    Bologna Process; post-secondary education decisions; apprenticeships; higher education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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