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Swiss Leading House VPET-ECON

Three Questions to Leading House Alumni Prof. Dr. Samuel Mühlemann

Question No. 1: What was your dissertation subject?

My dissertation subject was “The Economics of Vocational Education and Training from the Perspective of the Firm".


Question No. 2: What is the main conclusion of your research for practice and/or for future research?

My research shows how economic factors and institutions influence the training behavior of firms. For example, we could show that Swiss firms facing high external hiring costs are more likely to offer apprenticeship training and subsequently retain graduated apprentices as skilled workers. However, local competition in the labor market may prohibit such a strategy, as poaching becomes a problem when firms are unable to recoup their training investments by the time the trainees leave. Thus, my research matters for education policy because framework conditions, such as flexible apprentice pay and an appropriate training duration, in combination with external certification of skills, largely determine whether firms can offer high quality training to apprentices without having to incur substantial net training costs.  Such knowledge is important for countries that currently attempt to expand their vocational education and training system and the share of learning that takes place at the workplace, such as England, Spain, or the United States.


Question No. 3: If you would choose only one piece of advice to give to students and/or doctoral students, who have their first day at university, what would you tell them?

I would recommend every student and doctoral student to spend at least one semester at an academic institution abroad. Living and studying in another country not only broadens your academic skills, but it is also a very valuable personal experience. For many students, a semester abroad will be the first time away from friends and family for an extended period, so it is a great opportunity to learn about other cultures, become more independent and improve your foreign language skills.

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Prof. Dr. Samuel Mühlemann