An Empirical Analysis of the Decision to Train Apprentices


  • The study is based on two surveys financed by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI credit 4289.1 BFS and 5630.1 BFS) with the help of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office and carried out in tandem with a similar survey in Germany conducted by the Federal Institute of Vocational Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung) in Bonn. We are grateful to an anonymous referee and the editor for valuable comments. The usual disclaimer holds.

Samuel Muehlemann — Juerg Schweri — Rainer Winkelmann — Stefan C. Wolter (author for correspondence), University of Berne, Department of Economics, Centre for Research in Economics of Education, P.O. Box 8573, CH-3001 Bern, Switzerland. E-mail:


Abstract.  It is a widely held belief that apprenticeship training represents a net investment for training firms, the cost of which needs to be recouped after the training period. A new firm-level data set for Switzerland reveals large variation in net costs across firms and, remarkably, negative net costs for 60 per cent of all firms. We use these data to estimate the effect of net costs on the number of apprentices hired by a firm. The results show that the costs have a significant impact on the training decision but no significant influence on the number of apprentices, once the firm has decided to train. For policy purposes, these results indicate that subsidies for firms that already train apprentices would not boost the number of available training places.