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Do high school graduates benefit from intensive vocational training?

Luca Mo Costabella (ASVAPP – Association for the Development of Evaluation and Public Policy Analysis, Torino, Italy) (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 7 August 2017




Decades of impact evaluation of vocational training have produced very heterogeneous findings. If heterogeneity can be ascribed to the diversity in contents and target population, it can be reduced analyzing specific subprograms. The purpose of this paper is to focus on Italian “Post Diploma” training, which consists of intensive courses for unemployed holding a high school degree. Evidence on the benefits for different types of workers is provided, distinguishing in particular between common unemployed and those who attend training as a further investment in human capital after finishing their schooling.


The evaluation is based on a non-experimental control group design. Exploiting extremely rich administrative data, impact estimates are obtained via propensity score matching. The robustness of results is checked through extensive sensitivity analysis.


The results suggest a positive impact on the employment probability, also in the long run. Training is particularly effective for people who attend it just after finishing high school. Cost-benefit analysis yields a positive rate return on public investment only after more than five years.


The study focuses on a limited and homogeneous segment of training in order to provide more exploitable evidence for program design purposes. Due to its specific characteristics and aims, Post Diploma training represents an example of intervention which, unlike many programs for unemployed, works better for the youngest. The conclusions stress the general need for evaluations that properly account for the cost of an intervention and its effectiveness in the long run.



This study was started under the project “Pilot projects to carry out ESF related counterfactual impact evaluations,” funded by the European Union. The Compagnia di San Paolo must be acknowledged for its support to the dissemination activity of ASVAPP. The author is grateful to Alberto Martini, Enrico Rettore and Vincenzo Scoppa for their useful comments and suggestions in the various steps of the research.


Mo Costabella, L. (2017), "Do high school graduates benefit from intensive vocational training?", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 38 No. 5, pp. 746-764.



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