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We analyze the relationship between initial vocational education and training (VET) and training policies by looking at the ways and extent to which different approaches…
We analyze the relationship between initial vocational education and training (VET) and training policies by looking at the ways and extent to which different approaches foster the acquisition of general and transferable skills. The factors that particularly affect the investment in training and the investment in transferable skills are analyzed both from the point of view of the individual and the employer. We argue that with the reform of their national training systems, Spain and the United Kingdom have followed different routes in order to foster precisely an increase in the investment on transferable skills. Those pathways differ in the extent to which policy strategies have aimed at reducing either individual worker or firms’ constraints to receive or invest in transferable training, and in the extent to which the emphasis for certification focused on “demonstrated learning outcomes” as opposed to “particular learning processes or places.” The paper concludes with the presentation of some policy implications.
Contemporary labor economics has a ready explanation for the role of job training in the labor market. The human capital framework pioneered by Becker (1962, 1993) and Mincer (1962) and now extended by many, many others sees training as an investment in productive capacity that benefits both workers and employers. Employers enhance the productivity of their firms by investing in the skills of their workers, and these productivity gains are passed on to workers in the form of higher wages. Key to all of this is the distinction between general and specific skill. According to the theory, employers will not pay for or provide general skills (i.e. those that are transferable and hence valuable to other employers), because they are averse to being “poached” by more high-wage employers. They will, however, invest in workplace-specific skills, which assure them a return on their training investments.