Can Spanish firms offer dual apprenticeships without making a net investment? Empirical evidence based on ex ante simulations of different training scenarios

Publication Date03 April 2017
AuthorSamuel Muehlemann,Stefan C. Wolter
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
Can Spanish firms offer dual
apprenticeships without making a
net investment? Empirical evidence
based on ex ante simulations of
different training scenarios
Samuel Muehlemann
Munich School of Management, University of Munich, Munich, Germany, and
Stefan C. Wolter
Department of Economics, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland and
Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education, Aarau, Switzerland
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to simulate the potential costs and benefits for Spanish firms
providing dual apprenticeship training.
Design/methodology/approach The paper conducts simulations of ten training occupations in six
different industries in Spain. For these simulations, the authors combined Spanish wage data and the existing
training curriculum regarding instruction times in vocational school in Spain with data from Swiss firms
offering training in similar occupations. These data contain information regarding the amount of workplace
training, relative apprentice productivity, and the relative importance of non-wage training costs (such as
training equipment).
Findings The authors found that training occupation, training scenario, and firm size are important
determinants of the authorssimulations for the expected net costs of apprenticeship training in Spanish
firms. Consequently, the break-even level of apprenticeswages differs significantly by training occupation
and training scenario, suggesting that one prescribed apprentice wage for all sectors and occupations would
be detrimental to the willingness of many firms to provide training places.
Practical implications Dual apprenticeship training may improve the labor market transition for
Spanish youth. The paper provides guidelines for regulatory frameworks that allow firms to provide
apprenticeship training without having to bear net training costs an important condition given that
apprentices are free to leave the training firm upon graduation.
Social implications The authorssimulations show that Spanish firms would be able to provide
high-quality apprenticeship training programs that would also appeal to more talented youth because of the
combination of a decent earning opportunity during the apprenticeship and good future career options.
Originality/value This paper provides novel and direct empirical evidence regarding the framework
conditions within the Spanish apprenticeship system, thus incentivizing both firms and individuals to
participate in dual apprenticeship training programs.
Keywords Spain, Apprenticeship training, Cost-benefit simulations, Firm-sponsored training,
Work-based training
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Apprenticeship training is an important educational pathway in countries with established
dual apprenticeship systems, such as Germany or Switzerland. Given the very difficult
situation of youth regarding the transition from the education system into the labor market
in Spain, a country with a predominantly school-based education system, regulations
allowing the training of apprentices in a dual system have been in place since 2012.
However, very few firms make use of this opportunity, and the share of dual apprenticeship
programs remains negligible, even though firms have difficulty recruiting qualified skilled
workers from the external labor market.
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 5 No. 1, 2017
pp. 107-118
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/EBHRM-04-2016-0009
Received 6 April 2016
Revised 6 July 2016
Accepted 7 August 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Spanish firms
offer dual

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