[Journal:] IZA Journal of Labor Policy [ISSN:] 2193-9004 [Volume:] 3 [Year:] 2014 [Pages:] 1-22
A firm's decision to engage in apprenticeship training is to a large extent determined by the cost-benefit ratio of such an investment compared to other alternatives of securing skilled workers. Empirical evidence shows that in a well-functioning apprenticeship training system, a large share of training firms can recoup their training investments by the end of the training period. As training firms often succeed in retaining the most suitable apprentices, offering apprenticeships is an attractive strategy to recruit their future skilled work force. In addition - as long as skills are standardised and nationally certified - those apprentices leaving the training firm after graduation ensure that other firms can recruit a sufficient number of skilled workers from the labour market. Firms themselves can influence the cost-benefit ratio of training to some extent, but an equally important or even bigger part of this ratio is determined by public policy: the educational system, training regulations and labour market institutions. To assess the efficacy and efficiency of such framework conditions in regard to the apprenticeship training system, their impact on the cost-benefit ratio of training for firms needs to be assessed ex ante as well as ex post. Unfortunately, so far only two countries (Germany and Switzerland) provide representative and periodic data on the costs and benefits of apprenticeship training that are suitable for such an analysis. Given the importance of adequate data to guide public policy, there is first of all a need for a stronger investment in data collection and data analyses.