Journal article Open Access

The costs of standardized apprenticeship curricula for training firms

Schweri, Jürg; Aepli, Manuel; Kuhn, Andreas

Standardized curricula define the set of skills that must be trained within a training occupation and thus are a key regulatory element of apprenticeship systems. Although clear economic rationales support the usage of such curricula, they necessarily impose costs, especially on firms that train apprentices, but do not use the full set of skills in their productive process and/or train other skills that are not covered by the curriculum. In this paper, we identify the trade-offs involved in setting up training curricula and use data from the most recent survey on the costs and benefits of apprenticeship training among Swiss firms to quantify the associated costs to training firms. On average, training firms state that they do not use 17% of the training content prescribed by the relevant curriculum, and 11% of the companies train additional skills not covered by the curriculum. We show that both kinds of misfit are associated with higher training costs and lower productive output from apprentices. This shows that the regulator imposes costs on firms in order to guarantee broad skills development for apprentices. It also cautions against overly broad curricula that may impose disproportionate costs on firms.

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