Are Courses Chosen to Reduce Skill-Deficiencies? An Experimental Approach

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 28.03.2006, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Lex Borghans (Maastricht University)


Training is generally regarded as an important way to increase the skills of the work force. This requires that people self-consciously select courses that fit their skill needs. We report findings of an experiment in which we investigate (1) to what extent people make an assertive choice for a training course and (2) whether this course is aimed at reducing skill deficiencies. In a survey we evaluated the levels and requirements for six different skills of 3,357 workers 1.5 years after graduation. 6 months later we perform an experiment in which the respondents (hypothetically) are asked by their employers to participate in a training program of three courses. The respondents have the option to change these courses for three other courses. By randomizing the default courses we are able to identify the tendency not to make a deliberate choice. We find that workers generally do not have the propensity to choose courses with which they can reduce job related skill shortages. However, if such courses are suggested to the workers as a default, they seem to understand the importance of investing in their skill shortages more. Relating choice behavior to personal characteristics, we find that people with more hedonic life-styles (e.g. people with higher time discount rates, who value leisure time more) choose less often to reduce their skill deficiencies.

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