Apprenticeship Skills Pay Off on the Labor Market


Christina Langer, Jakob Peiffer and Simon Wiederhold

Key Messages

  • Apprenticeship plans provide the basis for reliably and comprehensively classifying the skills of a large share of Germany’s workforce
  • In total, we classify more than 13,000 different skills and the duration of learning each skill based on the apprenticeship plans
  • Workers who have acquired higher cognitive, social, or digital skills during their apprenticeship earn higher wages in the short and long term
  • In particular, the value of digital skills has risen sharply since the 1990s, parallel to the increasing use of computers in the workplace
  • The speed at which apprenticeship plans are modernized is crucial for how well the German apprenticeship system can prepare its graduates for the future labor market

Workers’ skills are essential to their success on the labor market. However, the empirical evidence on the economic impact of higher skills is still limited due to how skills are measured. In this article, the authors develop novel measures of workers’ skills that are comprehensive, highly detailed, and directly relevant to the labor market. To this end, they leverage the characteristics of the German apprenticeship system, which offers three main advantages for measuring skills and analyzing their labor market potential.


Christina Langer, Jakob Peiffer and Simon Wiederhold: Taxation and Innovation: “Apprenticeship Skills Pay Off on the Labor Market,” EconPol Forum 24 (6), CESifo, Munich, 2023.