The Economics of Vocational Education and Training: Markets - Institutions - Systems

BIBB-Conference on 5 and 6 November 2015

The recent financial crisis has been triggering high levels of youth unemployment in several countries within the European Union. As one reaction to the crisis, many policy makers and researchers have proposed a (re)enforcement of vocational training structures as a measure to facilitate the integration of young workers into the labour market. The main argument is that VET, and especially programmes involving a strong work-based component, increase the labour market attachment of young people and thereby enhance employment and wage prospects compared to more general schooling.

Although the research field of the economics of VET has received an increasing amount of attention over the past years, many essential questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of VET remain an open issue of discussion. Therefore, BIBB organized a conference to bring together researchers from all fields of research on economics of VET and to discuss the most recent empirical and theoretical research results on this subject.

The conference benefitted from the contributions of the keynote speakers Uschi Backes-Gellner (University of Zurich), Jürg Schweri (Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training) and Andries de Grip (Research Centre for Education and the Labor Market (ROA) and Maastricht University).

The keynotes complemented the presentations of various international researchers that were selected from the scientific committee from all contributions submitted to the call for papers of the conference.
In a separate session, Prof. Sandra McNally (Centre for Vocational Education Research) provided an overview of the challenges to the VET system in the United Kingdom and the research agenda of her newly established institute.

Exemplary research questions that have been discussed at the conference are:

  • What medium to long-term benefits may firms and individuals have from participating in VET?
  • How do labour market institutions and policy changes influence the training behaviour of firms and individuals in different countries?
  • How do training markets react to exogenous shocks to the supply of and demand for qualifications?
  • What can we learn from VET systems in other countries operating under different economic and institutional conditions?

Interested researchers, politicians, stakeholders and practitioners were invited to participate and to contribute to the fruitful discussion of the findings. Around 67 researchers from 8 countries attended the two-day conference at the BIBB in Bonn.

In his welcome note, the head of research at BIBB, Prof. Weiß, stressed the progress made in the field of economics of VET in recent years. The work of BIBB on the relevant topics can be found here: Costs, benefits and financing of vocational education and training