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Although the number of graduates with a bachelor’s degree has risen over recent years, little information is available as to which position such persons hold within an establishment and whether they compete on the career ladder with persons from the vocational sector with advanced further training, for example master craftsmen, technicians or certified senior clerks. This article presents the results of a choice experiment in which decision makers at German establishments had to choose between three candidates to fill a vacant project management position. The candi- dates had completed either advanced further training or a bachelor’s programme in dual courses of study (training- or practice-integrated). They further differed in other characteristics, such as the place of training, final mark, occupa- tional experience and specialisation. The results show that the training strategy of the establishments as well as their general experience with bachelor’s graduates plays an important role when the chances of career advancement are assessed. Persons with advanced further training certificates are only preferred if the establishments exclusively sup - port advanced training programmes. For all other establishments the qualification path of the candidates does not matter. The results give rise to the supposition that dual higher education studies will represent an attractive alterna- tive for young people as opposed to advanced further training if such dual programmes are expanded and awareness of them increases. Keywords: Choice experiment, Establishment survey, Higher education, Vignette study, Bachelor’s, Advanced further training, Dual study programmes, Germany JEL Classification: C12, C25, C51, C88, C91, D22, D46, D83, I21, I23, J24 initial vocational qualification within approximately 1 Introduction 3 years’ time could only be acquired in the (dual) voca- In Bologna in 1999, Germany agreed with other Euro- tional training system and not within higher education. pean countries to create a European Higher Education Furthermore, the newly introduced short-track academic Area to ensure comparability in the standards and quality bachelor’s programmes are formally considered to impart of higher-education qualification in Europe. The imple - the same level of competence as advanced further train- mentation of the so-called Bologna-Reform, with bach- ing programmes (such as master craftsman, technician elor’s and master’s degrees, introduced a new aspect to or certified senior clerk) which mark the end of the voca - the German education system, because until then an tional education path. Due to this constellation, the fear was expressed that *Correspondence: email@example.com employees trained in the prominent dual system could be Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Bonn, Germany substituted by persons with a bachelor’s degree (Drexel © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visithttp:// creat iveco mmons. org/ licen ses/ by/4. 0/. 4 Page 2 of 15 T. Maier 2012) and the attractiveness of the vocational sector in that employees with bachelor’s and advanced vocational Germany could be jeopardised (e.g. Deissinger 2015). education and training qualifications may well compete Contrary to the substitution hypotheses, the first empiri - with one another within the company hierarchy to secure cal studies highlighted the complementary aspects of the senior skilled worker positions or junior or middle man- vocational and academic study programmes as they focus agement jobs. A project manager position represents the on different (practical versus theoretical) tasks (Hippach- first rung on this career ladder. Schneider et al. 2012; Bahl et al. 2011; Bott and Wünsche Choice experiments are methodologically designed for 2014). However, at the time the studies were conducted, action and decision theories (Auspurg and Liebe 2011). there was little experience with bachelor’s graduates in They are therefore suitable for identifying decision-mak - the labour market, and the conclusions were rather pre- ing behaviour in the recruitment process. It is assumed liminary, especially because a large proportion of bach- that the decision-makers make a rational choice (c.f. elor’s graduates did not participate in the labour market Lindenberg 1992) and select the applicant, who is most but continued studying in a master’s programme (Briedis likely to have the skills required for the specified tasks et al. 2011). Since then, we can observe a stagnation in and who incurs the lowest costs for the company, e.g. in the number of apprentices in the vocational sector and terms of training time or wages. From an establishment in advanced further training in Germany, whereas the perspective, it is therefore crucial to identify as many amount of persons with bachelor’s degrees is continu- productivity-relevant characteristics of the applicants as ously increasing (Ertl 2020). At the same time, employer possible in the recruitment process. However, in reality, surveys indicate, on the one hand, that persons with decision-makers can only be boundedly rational utility a bachelor’s degree have a high chance of being given maximisers because they have only limited knowledge responsibility for a project or even a business unit (Kone- of the market and on the productivity of the applicants. gen-Grenier et al. 2015; Briedis et al. 2011). On the other Furthermore, they have to consider the additional costs hand, there are claims that bachelor’s graduates lack for obtaining missing information. In these situations of competencies due to their younger age and lack of expe- imperfect information, actors (can only) rely on existing rience and practical knowledge (DIHK 2015; Briedis et al. knowledge gained in previous situations. Esser (1990, p. 2011). These diverse findings thus leave two important 236) argues that this preservation of previously successful questions unanswered. First, it is still not clear whether “habits” and “frames” can be interpreted as a very rational employers regard bachelor’s graduates as substitutes for matter. Due to differences in company experience and persons with advanced training degrees, especially if they knowledge, it is therefore rational for companies to eval- have to choose between applicants with different quali - uate objectively identical personal attributes or signals of fication types. Second, it is unclear to what degree this applicants (Spence 1973), such as educational qualifica - decision-making process depends on the knowledge and tions, differently with regard to the tasks to be performed experience of the decision makers with respect to bach- in the establishment (or the institutional context, see Di elor’s graduates (Briedis et al. 2011). Stasio and Van de Werfhorst 2016). In this paper, I will address these two questions by I argue that establishments have heterogeneous knowl- introducing a choice experiment in an establishment edge and experience of the rather newly introduced survey, in which human resources decision makers bachelor degrees and that this knowledge and experience have to choose between three applicants for a project influences the choice for applicants with this educational management position. According to the German Quali- certificate. I differentiate between three ways in which fication Framework (GQF), the purpose of both bach - establishments can obtain information about the actual elor’s degrees and advanced training programmes is to skills and abilities that are certified in a training cur - deliver competencies “for the planning, processing and riculum. First, they can infer the possible heterogeneity evaluation of comprehensive technical tasks and prob- of skills among applicants with the same certificate from lems.” In addition, persons holding such qualifications the degree of standardisation of the certificate (Damel - should be able to “assume responsibility when work- ang et al. 2018). Second, they can engage in the training ing within expert teams or demonstrate responsibility process. And third, they can infer the skills from persons in leading groups or organisations”. This makes it clear with an equal or similar degree who already work at the establishment. The majority of the German workforce is trained in nationally standardised training courses governed by the Establishments are subordinate to the associated company; their primary Vocational Training Act (BBiG) and Crafts and Trades goal is their own profitability. The German Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning: https:// www. dqr. de/ conte nt_ en/ 2336. php. Accessed 1 January 2020. Advanced further training or dual higher education study: a choice experiment on the influence… Page 3 of 15 4 Regulation Code (HwO). Training courses governed by on theoretical than practical knowledge. Without speci- the BBiG/HwO are regulated on the federal state level fying the tasks of a project management position, it and therefore comparable across Germany. Damelang should remain unclear for establishments, which skill et al. (2018) show that a standardisation of an occupation set of the applicants (specific or generic) is best suited facilitates the matching process because information for for the position. However, the shared training respon- both employers and job seekers is enhanced. Advanced sibility in the vocational sector has the advantage that further training programmes can only be accessed after establishments get informed about the productivity of a successful apprenticeship according to BBiG/HwO the apprentices during the apprenticeship (Acemoglu and are also, to some extent, nationally standardised (§ and Pischke 1998) and in the following advanced further 53 BBiG/§ 42 HwO). But even if responsibility for the training. Establishments have usually less screening pos- advanced training regulation is transferred to the com- sibilities of bachelor’s students (Neeß 2015). Dual courses petent bodies (§ 54 BBiG/§ 42 a HwO), advanced train- of higher education study constitute a distinctive aspect ing, such as to become a master craftsman, technician or in this context. They enable establishments to engage in certified senior clerk, has a long tradition and is widely the training process of bachelor’s degree students (Graf disseminated and known in the German labour market. 2016; Ertl 2020). On the one hand, Practice-integrated It can thus be assumed that employers have less transac- programmes of study merely require students to com- tion costs (Williamson 1975) in assessing the expected plete longer practical placements at establishments. productivity of applicants with an advanced further These practical phases are credited as academic achieve - training degree as they should have some confidence in ments (Wissenschaftsrat 2013). Training-integrated the quality of this educational signal (Breen 2005). Even programmes of study, on the other hand, provide a cur- though, it has to be admitted that one of the aims of the riculum that combines nationally standardised training Bologna process was to standardise curricula for different courses governed by BBiG/HwO and higher education degrees and to gain clarity over different degrees` skills, study. the degrees` standardisation within Germany is still less Similar to advanced further training programmes, stu- than in the vocational sector. This is because the design dents in a dual course of study should acquire specific of the training curricula of bachelor programmes is the rather than generic skills. Furthermore, possible infor- responsibility of the universities (of applied science). Fur- mation asymmetries are reduced, if the establishment is thermore, the rather new educational certificate is less actually engaged in the training of bachelor’s students in rooted in the German labour market than advanced fur- a dual course of study. Therefore, no preference for one of ther training programmes. Without further information the two educational certificates should be apparent. on the applicants, the following hypothesis should there- fore apply: H2 Establishments, which train bachelor’s students in dual courses of study, do not prefer applicants with H1 Applicants with advanced further training have a advanced further training to applicants with bachelor’s higher chance of being recruited for a project manage- degrees for a project management position. ment position than persons with a bachelor’s degree when recruited from the external labour market. The application of “habits” and “frames” in situations of imperfect situations as suggested by Esser (1990) signi- However, the degree of standardisation is not the fies that human resources decision makers rely on knowl - only difference between advanced further training pro - edge and experiences gained from similar situations in grammes and bachelor degrees. Training courses gov- the past. Instead of acquiring information while engaging erned by BBiG/HWO impart rather specific skills, in the training of students in dual courses of study, deci- whereas academic programmes rather concentrate on sion makers could also base their judgement on workers generic skills. This is because in the German vocational with bachelor degrees, who already work for the estab- sector, responsibility for training is shared between lishment. Furthermore, in case of insecurity this similar establishments and vocational schools, whereas in the qualified “personal contacts” (Granovetter 1995) within academic sector, study programmes are organised by the establishment could be asked to gain additional infor- universities (of applied science) and concentrate rather mation on the quality of the educational signal. Federal Statistical Office Germany—GENESIS-Online: Result 12,211–0041 (destatis.de) (Access 19.02.2021. 4 Page 4 of 15 T. Maier Table 1 Attributes and attribute values of applicants in RCS-choice-experiment Attributes Attribute values Type of qualification Bachelor’s degree (training-integrated) Bachelor’s degree (practice-integrated) Advanced further training (e.g. master craftsmen, technician) Place of training Own establishment External establishment Final mark Very good Satisfactory Occupational experience None 2 years in an external establishment 2 years in own establishment Occupational specialisation Fully corresponds to the task area Partly corresponds to the task area H3 Establishments, which employ persons with bach- inference are never possible in the social sciences without elor’s degrees within their establishment, do not pre- essential assumptions, which must be as well-founded as fer applicants with advanced further training to appli- possible (Legewie 2012). For the specific research ques - cants with bachelor’s degrees for a project management tion on hand, the high VET-affinity of the establishments position. might even be an advantage as they are particularly suited to measuring the substitution probability of persons with advanced further training by persons with a bachelor’s degree. Being informed about at least one qualification is 2 Methods a basic prerequisite for being able to uncover any com- To test the hypotheses, I rely on the Reference Com- petition situations that may arise between persons with pany System (RCS) of the German Federal Institute for different qualifications. Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). The RCS comprises an Access Panel, i.e. a stable pool of establish- 2.1 Specification of candidate attributes ments, which have declared their willingness to be avail- In the case of a hypothetical decision-making situation, able for BIBB surveys. Around 1350 establishments are as required in a choice experiment, it is important for surveyed once or twice a year on the latest issues affecting the measurement of a causal effect that all those factors establishment-based vocational education and training are listed, which are also relevant to the attitude in an (VET). The present investigation represents the fortieth actual decision-making situation (Louviere et al. 2000) occasion on which the establishments have been sur- and that the experiment is manageable in its complexity. veyed within the framework of the RCS. The establish - Five to nine attributes are often used as orientation vari- ment survey was conducted in 2017. The questionnaire ables (Auspurg and Liebe 2011). Table 1 summarises the used a choice experiment to simulate the appointment attributes and attribute values used. In total there are five of a project manager to oversee up to three persons. A attributes—two attributes with three values and three choice experiment is a form of vignette experiment. It attributes with two values. Their selection is based on the identifies the preferences of respondents by presenting following considerations. them with descriptions of objects or persons (vignettes), As discussed above, the extent to which establishments from which they select their preferred option. The attrib - are familiar with the skills and abilities, which are learned utes pre-stipulated for the vignettes are randomly varied and certified during a certain programme of training or according to certain characteristics. This experimental study is of particular relevance for this paper. I differen - design allows a causal interpretation to be made of the tiate between the traditional advanced further training effects of the characteristics on the likelihood of selection (for example, master craftsman, technician) and bach- (Auspurg and Liebe 2011; McFadden et al. 2005). elor’s degrees in dual studies—one training-integrated, Given the nature of the access panel, it is important to the other practice-integrated. All three education forms note that the establishments surveyed are not representa- offer the opportunity for establishments to engage in the tive for all German establishments, as they display a high training process. The applicants can therefore be trained degree of affinity with VET. Although it would be desir - within their own or an external establishment. This dif - able to generalise the effects on all establishments by a ferentiation is important, as training within one’s own random sample, the selectivity of the selected establish- establishment gives greater insights into the actual skills ments does not mean that causal effects are not actually of the applicants. observed. On the contrary, measurements of the causal Further information on the RCS can be accessed on www. bibb. de/ de/ 12471. php (as of: 24.01.2019). Advanced further training or dual higher education study: a choice experiment on the influence… Page 5 of 15 4 As previous studies on recruitment show that a good be more important than the applicants’ specialist knowl- final grade can have a positive impact on employers’ edge acquired during their studies (Deutscher Akademis- recruitment preferences (Engel et al. 2009; Hippach- cher Austauschdienst, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Schneider et al. 2012; Humburg and van der Velden (eds.) 2016; DIHK 2015; Piopiunik et al. 2018). Due to 2015; Neeß 2015; Di Stasio and Van de Werfhorst the research focus on the facts to be found in the CV, I 2016), the final mark is therefore taken into account do not, however, include a variation of soft skills in the as an applicant characteristic in the choice experi- applicant vignettes. Instead, in the introductory text of ment. A clear distinction is made between the certi- the experiment it is emphasised that the application pro- fied skills and abilities on the basis of “very good” and cedure has been completed and that the interviews have “satisfactory” marks. In addition to the certificate or shown that “everyone has convinced us of their personal qualification, occupational experience is known as an and social abilities” (see questionnaire in ESM). This for - important indicator when estimating the productivity mulation has the following two objectives: of applicants (Engel et al. 2009; Humburg and van der The candidate characteristics are chosen so that all Velden 2015; Neeß 2015; European Union 2014; Mer- candidates would, in principle, be suitable for the job, gener and Maier 2019; Damelang and Abraham 2016). which is why they were all invited for an interview. As a I distinguish between people who have no work expe- result, respondents have to make a final decision for one rience after completing their training and people with or against all of them. The number of additional appli - 2 years of work experience in and outside the establish- cants is therefore analytically irrelevant. If the hiring pro- ment. This is because the hiring of an external specialist cess was aimed at an invitation to an interview, it would always entails costs that reflect the opportunity income be implausible if only one person out of three could be when an internal specialist fills a higher position. These selected and not two or three. In addition, the decision recruitment costs consist of recruitment and induc- can then also depend on how many other candidates tion costs (Mühlemann and Pfeifer 2016) According to have applied. this consideration, internal applicants always have the advantage of lower training costs compared to exter- 2.2 Selection of choice sets nal applicants, ceteris paribus. In a direct survey, it is Combining all possible combinations of the attrib- hardly possible to distinguish between internal and utes and attribute values, the set of all possible charac- 2 3 external applicants and internally and externally trained teristic combinations consists of 3 × 2 = 72 different persons, because both correlate with each other. Never- applicant types. From these 72 possible applicant types, theless, career paths in which internally trained appli- three applicants are to be compared with each other. 2 3 3 cants are interested in a position as external applicants This results in (3 × 2 ) = 373,248 possible choice sets are plausible. In favour of a qualitative differentiation as a full-factorial design. To prevent possible correla- between external and internal work experience, a linear tions between the selected choice sets and thus be able to illustration of the occupational years (c.f. Humburg and estimate effects without loss of efficiency, care should be van der Velden 2015) is omitted. This has the advantage taken to make a conscious selection when drawing sam- that all applicants can have a similar age. ples from the full factorial design (Steiner and Atzmüller The suitability of the skills offered to the demanded task 2006). In addition to the uncorrelatedness of the attrib- appears to be of great importance for university gradu- utes (orthogonality), an even distribution of the attrib- ates (Humburg and van der Velden 2015; Engel et al. utes (level-balance), minimal overlapping of the applicant 2009; European Union 2014; Di Stasio and Van de Wer- attributes in a choice set (minimal-overlap) and almost fhorst 2016). It is therefore checked whether the occupa- equivalent alternatives (utility-balance) should be aimed tional specialisation of the applicant “fully corresponds to for (Huber and Zwerina 1996). Since it is not possible to the task area” or “partly corresponds to the task area”. I use all four principles at the same time, I choose a proce- exclude persons with an inappropriate qualification, since dure that directly maximises D-efficiency (Zwerina et al. it is a question of filling a content project management 2010). The D-efficiency attaches particular importance to position and there would be a fear that persons who are the orthogonality and balance of the selected candidates inappropriate would be excluded regardless of the other (Kuhfeld et al. 1994) and can be achieved with the addi- attribute characteristics. tional macros of the statistics program SAS developed by In addition to the above-mentioned characteristics, Kuhfeld (eds.) (2010b). To approximate both properties, which are mainly to be found in the CV or cover let- first a subgroup is selected from the 373,248 possible pair ter of the applicants, social and personal skills, or “soft comparisons and compared with each other. On the basis skills”, are also important recruitment criteria (Piopiunik of an information criterion, the pairs with the applicant et al. 2018). In some cases, they are even considered to 4 Page 6 of 15 T. Maier characteristics that are most efficient are selected (Zwe - originates in psychology and was formulated to describe rina et al. 2010). inconsistent human decision-making behaviour with From a content point of view, all main effects as well as regard to the same stimuli in changing circumstances the interactions between the “type of qualification” with (urst Th one 1927). From the RUT it follows that the ben- all other variables and “place of training” x “occupational efit of different alternatives exists as a latent construct in experience” and “occupational experience” x “occupa- the minds of persons and that a good with its attributes tional specialisation” must be uncorrelated. In the first is classified on this continuum. The CTV assumes that step, the SAS macro %MktRuns suggests that with half only its attributes and not a certain good itself is benefi - of the 72 possible different candidates, orthogonal and cial. Given this theoretical framework, the latent “utility” balanced design construction should be possible. The 36 of an applicant for an establishment cannot be measured candidates are selected according to the restrictions with directly, but indirectly through the known attributes, regard to the main and interaction effects using the macro such work experience, qualifications, etc. The choice of %MktEx. The search algorithm combines the modified an applicant depends on the characteristics of the other, Fedorov algorithm (Cook and Nachtsheim 1980; Fedorov alternative applicants, on the characteristics of the deci- 1972) and a coordinate-exchange algorithm (Meyer and sion maker and on an interaction between the applicant Nachtsheim 1995). The relative D-efficiency under con - and the decision-maker characteristics. A conditional sideration of these 36 applicants corresponds to 100% in logit model (McFadden 1973) is therefore suitable for comparison to the full factorial design. statistical analysis, as it allows the differentiation of the The pre-selected 36 applicants of the fractional facto - systematic part of the u utility component between the ia rial design are then divided into choice sets with three characteristics of the applicants a and the decision mak- alternatives each using the macro %ChoiceEff (modi - ers i (establishments): fied Fedorov Candidate Set Search Algorithm) in a sec - u = c + X + (s Z ) + ε ia a iaβ i i ia (1) ond step. The candidates are exchanged with each other until the efficiency reaches a local maximum. In the pro - The alternative-specific matrices X vary between ia cedure, the main and interaction effects as well as the applicants (and between establishments). s is a vector expected sample size (around 400 establishments) and of establishment-specific characteristics. Accordingly, β the expected parameter estimators are taken into account represents the alternative-specific and Z establishment- (Kuhfeld 2010a). From the 36 applicants, 36 choice sets specific regression coefficients. By considering alterna - with three applicants each can ultimately be generated. tive-specific constants c , the unobserved utility part The same applicants thus appear three times on average, ε receives the mean value 0. The constants capture ai but always in context with other applicants (no dupli- the mean benefit effect of all unobserved factors (Train cates). Since all respondents are asked to evaluate three 2009). To identify the coefficients, one alternative must choice sets, the 36 most D-efficient choice sets are dis - be normalised (e.g. set to 0). The model can then be tributed among 12 different questionnaires after 100 solved by maximum likelihood estimation. iterations (out of 373,248 possible choice sets). Here, the The alternative specific constant and/or variables are macro %MktBlock is used, which controls the distribu- especially suited to seeing whether one choice is signifi - tion in such a way that the attribute values of the appli- cantly chosen over other choices. This is, for example, the cants and the applicant alternatives are uncorrelated case if we want to know why some establishments chose from the block structure (Kuhfeld 2010a). none of the applicants presented. If there is no interest Since vignette experiments are susceptible to sequence in an alternative itself, the alternative specific constant effects due to their complexity (Auspurg et al. 2009), the can also be left out of the equation. In the following, I sequence of the three choice sets was rotated within one will therefore first assess why some establishments did questionnaire, so that 72 (= 12 × 3!) different question - not select any of the applicants and then I will concen- naires resulted with regard to the choice set constella- trate on all choice sets in which one of the applicants was tion. As a further alternative to the three applicants, the selected. establishments were also free to choose “none of these In the conditional logit, the independent variable is persons” in order not to provoke an unwanted decision to be interpreted as a kind of utility scale. The absolute (Auspurg and Liebe 2011). values of the regression coefficients, on the other hand, are not very meaningful because the terms for the cat- 2.3 Analytic strategy egorical characteristics in the regression can be set I base my analysis of the choice experiments on the ran- arbitrarily. Instead, the relative differences in the level dom utility theory (RUT) (Manski 1977) and character- of utility should be considered for different expressions istics theory of value (CTV) (Lancaster 1966). The RUT of the same explanatory characteristic (Train 2009). Advanced further training or dual higher education study: a choice experiment on the influence… Page 7 of 15 4 Supporting bachelor programmes in Support advanced further training Support neither of the two dual course of study only Fig. 1 Establishments by training strategy and size. RCS 40 (2017), N = 265 establishments, establishments with missing values on the displayed variables excluded. Own calculations However, for easier interpretation, I will calculate the of study also support their employees by paying costs or average probability of being chosen, given the different by allowing time off for advanced further training meas - applicants’ characteristics. ures. By way of contrast, a fifth of establishments did not fund either of the training programmes. 71% of those 3 Results establishments employ less than 20 persons. Of around 1350 RCS establishments, a total of 278 estab- A chi-quadrat test shows that the distribution of the lishments took part in the survey, 124 of them by e-mail twelve different questionnaires with three different and 154 by post. This corresponds to a response rate of choice sets each does not differ systematically between 20.6% (21.1% for e-mails with three reminders and 20.2% establishments which were asked by e-mail or post. In for postal surveys with one reminder). Over half (54%) total, 824 recruitment situations were evaluated. In 41 of the establishments which responded are based in the (5%) of them, the decision maker chose to select none “producing and processing industries” while around 20% of the applicants. Table 2 in the appendix shows the dif- operate in the area of “business-related services”. 37% of ferent odds ratio for the alternative specific conditional these establishments have fewer than 20 employees. 42% choice model (see Eq. 1). The option to not select any have more than 100 employees. As Fig. 1 shows, estab- of the candidates was mainly taken if the description of lishments with 100 employees or more are far more the applicants was either too specific or too non-specific. likely to provide training via dual higher education study. Furthermore, the option was chosen significantly more At the same time, they also show a high willingness to often if the task area of the applicants was imagined as engage in training in general. 94% of the larger establish- being in the technical area. However, smaller estab- ments which support bachelor’s students in dual courses lishments were more likely to find the description too 4 Page 8 of 15 T. Maier specific. As Table 3 in the appendix shows, the descrip- to the explanation as to why the applicant was chosen. tions of the applicants were, in general, either too specific Only establishments, which exclusively support advanced or too non-specific. Whether the decision was perceived further training within their establishment, seem to have as easy or difficult did not have any significant influence, clear preferences: they are significantly less inclined to and nor did the size of the establishment. The results cre - choose persons with bachelor’s degrees from the less ate the impression that the relevant decision makers were standardised practice-integrated study programmes not able to put themselves in the corresponding decision- for project management positions than persons from making position. Therefore, and because of the relatively advanced further training programmes. Furthermore, low selection of the opt-out option, I will exclude these they especially value further occupational experience. choice sets from the following analysis. Establishments which support neither bachelor’s nor Excluding the opt-out option, the likelihood that advanced further training programmes have no signifi - one applicant will be chosen should be around 33% on cantly different preference for one of the three different average. Figure 2 shows the average probability of the qualification types. However, they do significantly prefer applicants being selected differentiated by type of quali - internal candidates. Concerning H2, it can therefore be fication, place of training and occupational experience. concluded that establishments, which train students in All three variables have been included with interaction dual courses of study (or do not engage in training at all) effects in the conditional logit model. As we can see, do not prefer applicants with advanced further training we observe the highest hiring probability for an internal to applicants with bachelor’s degrees for a project man- applicant with advanced further training (45%). Inde- agement position. pendent of the qualification type, the hiring probability To test H3, I only consider establishments, which do is below the average probability of 33% if the applicants not engage in the training of bachelor’s students in dual have no further occupational experience. Surprisingly, courses of study. I differentiate between those, which applicants with a training-integrated bachelor’s degree employ persons with a bachelor’s degree within the have a lower probability of being selected than applicants establishment, and those, which do not. Figure 4 shows with a practice-integrated bachelor’s degree. Due to the that those who have no practical experience with bache- simultaneous acquisition of a standardised IVET, differ - lor’s graduates show no preference for one of the degrees ent probabilities would have been expected in the event shown when filling the project management position. For that the applicant was internal or the training had taken them, the occupational experience gained after the quali- place in an external establishment. Referring to H1, it can fication plays a more important role. For establishments therefore be concluded that the hiring probabilities do that have knowledge about persons with a bachelor’s not differ if the applicants are trained within the estab - degree, the importance of the occupational experience lishment and apply from a position within the establish- varies a lot. However, persons with a practice-integrated ment. However, if either the training was in an external bachelor’s degree have a significantly lower probability of establishment or the applicants apply from an external being selected for the project management position. establishment, the decision makers prefer persons with advanced further training for the project management 3.1 Experience with bachelor’s graduates position. To get more insight as to why this is the case, Fig. 5 pre- In the next step, we will look at how the training strat- sents the answers of direct questions asked right after egy of the establishments (see Fig. 1) influences the pref - the experiment, separated by the two groups. It shows erences of the decision makers for one particular type of that those establishments which employ persons with certificate. Due to the smaller sample size, Fig. 3 shows bachelor’s degrees think that bachelor’s graduates have the 90% confidence levels of the average marginal effects higher chances of exclusively exercising theoretical and on the hiring probability, differentiated by training strate - research-based tasks or analytic and strategic tasks com- gies. What is striking is that the variables included in the pared to establishments which have no experience with model do not really explain the hiring decisions for estab- bachelor graduates. Furthermore, they think that bach- lishments, which support bachelor’s programmes in dual elor’s graduates can also inspect and assure quality to course of studies. Except for the final mark, none of the the same extent as master craftsmen, technicians or sen- other applicant characteristics contributes significantly ior clerks. More surprising is, however, the assessment A statistically different effect with a likelihood of error of 5% can, however, only be detected if the probabilities differ by 8.5 percentage points or more. There is no significant difference with confidence levels at 95%. Advanced further training or dual higher education study: a choice experiment on the influence… Page 9 of 15 4 by place of training: external establishment own establishment advanced further training .293 .453 .343 .259 .406 .414 bachelor’s degree (practice−integrated) .26 .377 .272 .273 .388 .372 bachelor’s degree (training−integrated) .316 .302 .257 .312 .387 .322 none 2 years in 2 years in none2 years in 2 years in own establ. ext. establ. own establ. ext. establ. occupational experience Fig. 2 Eec ff ts of applicant characteristics on the hiring probability for a project management position. RCS 40, Pseudo R : 0.05, N = 2 262, standard errors adjusted for 264 cluster. The conditional logit model controls for: alternatives, difficulty of the decision, description, task area, training strategy of establishment, position of the choice set, final mark of the applicant, matching occupational specialisation of the applicant and interaction effects between applicant’s “qualification” × “experience”, “qualification” × “place of training” and “experience” × “place of training”. The calculation excludes missing values. Probabilities are statistically different with a 5% likelihood of error if the probabilities differ by 8.5 percentage points or more. regarding the chance of filling a project management significant interaction effects and differences between position: 42% of the establishments with bachelor’s grad- certain groups of establishments, a sample size of around uates in the establishment think that bachelor’s gradu- 400 establishments would have been necessary. How- ates have a higher chance of filling a project management ever, this average sample size of the RCS could not be position, whereas only 17% of the establishments with no achieved. Based on the comments to the questionnaire, bachelor’s graduates think the same way. This contradicts the main reason for the non-response can be traced to the results of the experiment presented in Fig. 4. Either the fact that many of the decision makers surveyed were the decision makers made their decision independently not able to put themselves in the decision-making situa- of the expected chances for bachelor’s graduates or the tion, not least because bachelor’s graduates do not play a experiment lacked variables that reflect the apparent role in their establishments. If this increases the probabil- advantage of bachelor’s graduates. ity that the decision makers who responded were able to put themselves into the fictive recruitment situation, this 4 Discussion is at least an acceptable reason. The aim of this study was to find out whether establish - Due to the smaller sample size in the separate models ments see graduates with bachelor’s degrees as substi- for the training strategy, it was not possible to estimate tutes for persons with advanced further training. Instead average marginal effects if the difficulty of the decision, of asking the establishments directly, the novelty of description of applicants, and the task area were con- the study design lies in the simulation of an actual hir- trolled for. Therefore, I used seemingly unrelated regres - ing situation for a project management position. It was sions to test whether the coefficients of the applicants’ of special interest to see how the actual experience of characteristics differ significantly if controlled for estab - the establishments with bachelor’s students or gradu- lishment-specific characteristics. This is not the case. ates influences the decision-making behaviour. To detect The same is the case in the models that control for the type of qualification 4 Page 10 of 15 T. Maier ref.: advanced further training type of bachelor’s degree qualification (training−integrated) bachelor’s degree (practice−integrated) ref.: none occupational 2 years in external experience establishment 2 years in own establishment ref.: own establishment place of training external establishment ref.:satisfactory final mark very good ref.: matches partly occupational matches fully specialisation −.2 −.1 0 .1 .2 training strategy: advanced further training only bachelor in dual course neither Fig. 3 Average marginal effects of applicant characteristics on the hiring probability for a project management position—differentiated by establishments’ training strategy. RCS 40, N “advanced training only”: 1098, standard error clustered by 128 establishments, Pseudo R = 0.03; N “bachelor in dual course”: 735, standard errors clustered by 85 establishments, Pseudo R = 0.07; N “neither”: 459, standard errors clustered by 55 establishments, Pseudo R = 0.07. All three conditional logit regressions control for alternatives and interactions between applicants’ “qualification” × “experience”, “qualification” × “place of training” and “experience” × “place of training”. The calculations exclude missing values. Confidence levels at 90%. establishments’ experience with bachelor’s graduates 5 Conclusion (Fig. 4). The German education system offers two career paths: The experiment revealed that the final mark, in particu - either people start an apprenticeship training in IVET lar, appears to be an important selection criterium in the and build on this with advanced further training, or they decision-making situation. This is somehow surprising, study in universities (of applied science) with a bachelor’s because one could have expected that in an occupation- programme and continue with a master’s programme. segmented labour market as the German one (Müller and According to the GQF, both advanced further training Shavit 1998), the occupational match should have a larger and bachelor’s degrees qualify participants for the plan- impact than the final mark (Di Stasio and van de Wer - ning, processing and evaluation of comprehensive tasks fhorst 2016). Following Di Stasio and van de Werfhorst and problems and leading groups or organisations. The (2016) this could indicate that the final mark was inter - attractiveness of the vocational versus the academic sys- preted as an indicator of a general performance capacity tem is therefore decided in recruitment situations in or trainability, which would be consistent with the above which persons with different qualification paths compete assumption that decision makers in establishments, for a vacancy. In this paper, I presented the simulation of which employ but do not train bachelor’s graduates, such a recruitment situation with a choice experiment. focus on characteristics that have not been displayed in Decision makers in establishments with VET-affinity had detail in the experiment. For those decision makers, the to choose between three candidates with different char - final mark showed by far the strongest effect. In a real acteristics for a project management position. decision-making situation, such a tendency could, how- To ensure comparability between persons with ever, be problematic as grades between different types advanced further training and graduates with bachelor’s of study programme (IVET and universities of applied degrees, the choice experiment focused on a specialty science) and even between different institutions within of the academic sector–dual higher education pro- the same type of study programme are not necessarily grammes. Students of those programmes spend a sub- comparable. stantial amount of time within an establishment during Advanced further training or dual higher education study: a choice experiment on the influence… Page 11 of 15 4 ref.: advanced further training type of bachelor’s degree qualification (training−integrated) bachelor’s degree (practice−integrated) ref.: none occupational 2 years in external experience establishment 2 years in own establishment ref.: own establishment place of training external establishment ref.:satisfactory final mark very good ref.: matches partly occupational matches fully specialisation −.2 −.1 0 .1 .2 employees with bachelor degree in establishment: yesno Fig. 4 Average marginal effects of applicant characteristics on the hiring probability for a project management position—differentiated by establishments’. RCS 40, N “employees with bachelor’s degree in establishment”: 435, standard error clustered by 51 establishments, Pseudo 2 2 R = 0.10; N “no employees with bachelor’s degree in establishment”: 732, standard errors clustered by 85 establishments, Pseudo R = 0.07. Both conditional logit regressions control for alternatives and interactions between applicants’ “qualification” × “experience”, “qualification” × “place of training” and “experience” × “place of training”. Only establishments, which do not train in dual courses of study. The calculations exclude missing values. Confidence levels at 90%. their studies, which allows them—similar to persons effect can be traced back to the general involvement of with advanced further training—to apply for vacancies the establishments in the training of bachelor’s students on the internal labour market after completing their in dual courses of higher-level study. Only establish- studies, while their abilities are also well known by the ments which exclusively support advanced further train- establishments that train them. ing are significantly less inclined to choose persons with Coming from a rational choice perspective, I assumed bachelor’s degrees from the less standardised practice- that the knowledge and experience of establishments integrated study programmes for project management regarding the actual skills of graduates from different positions than persons from advanced further train- qualification paths would play an important role when ing programmes. Establishments which support neither filling the project management position. Especially in bachelor’s nor advanced further training programmes establishments with VET-affinity like the one asked in have no significantly different preference for one of the the survey, advanced further training programmes are three different qualification types. To the extent that more familiar, because they build on the standardised an establishment’s training strategy does not explicitly IVET system and have a long tradition. Graduates of state the aim of funding advanced further training pro- training- or practice-integrated bachelor’s programmes grammes, it is thus revealed that there is mutual com- are rather new on the labour market and they have, as petition between the qualifications with regard to career far as practice-integrated studies are concerned, no advancement in an establishment—assuming that project standardised training curricula. responsibility represents the first rung on the career lad - The results show that applicants from dual higher der. Establishments which do not train graduates from studies have indeed a lower chance of filling the pro - dual study bachelor’s programmes seem to have dif- ject management position compared to persons with ficulties in judging their abilities. If they do not employ advanced further training if they apply from an external graduates with bachelor’s degrees in general, they seem establishment or if they have been trained externally. The to mainly rely on occupational experience. If they employ 4 Page 12 of 15 T. Maier In your opinion, with all other things being equal, whichforms of training wouldleadtogreater chancesof: ...exercising ba. 85% 13% 2% theoretical and research no 76% 19% 5% basedtasks ba. ba. 65% 31% 4% ...exercising analytical and no strategic tasks 58% 33% 10% ba. ba. 48% 48% 4% ...higher renumeration no 46% 44% 10% ba. ba. 42% 52% 6% ...the management no of aproject 17% 49% 33% ba. ...exercising ba. 10% 61% 29% inspection and quality no assurance 13% 49% 38% ba. tasks ...exercising ba. 4% 25% 71% practice and application- no 1% 32% 67% oriented tasks ba. 0% 10%20% 30%40% 50%60% 70%80% 90%100% Bachelor's programme Equal high/ low chance Advanced furthertrainingprogramme Fig. 5 Evaluation of the establishment representatives of areas of deployment according to qualification—differentiated by establishments’ experience with bachelor’s graduates. RCS 40, N “employees with bachelor’s degree in establishment (ba.)”: 80. N “no employees with bachelor’s degree in establishment (no ba.)”: 47. Only establishments, which do not train in dual courses of study. The calculations exclude missing values. Percentage values rounded to whole numbers. bachelor’s graduates within the establishment, they show The experimental design further shows that very good a strong focus on the final mark, possibly as proxy for the final marks exert a significantly positive effect on the likeli - applicant’s productivity. hood of recruitment compared to the occupational match Given the fact that the chances of advancement are equal of the specialisation, regardless of the training strategy of at establishments, which have knowledge of the training the establishment. This may be interpreted as an indication contents it has to be noted that the duration of training of that a higher degree of significance is accorded to the cog - a bachelor’s degree programme (approximately 3 years) is nitive ability of applicants as represented by marks than is shorter than an IVET apprenticeship followed by advanced accorded to specific professional specialisation traditionally further training. This gives rise to the supposition that dual imparted during a programme of advanced further train- higher education study will represent an attractive alter- ing. Further investigation of this would need to take place native for young people as opposed to dual training and in which, for example, the match of the occupational spe- subsequent advanced training if such dual programmes cialisation is more precisely defined and researched. are expanded and awareness of them increases. The fact that the surveyed establishments have a high VET-affinity seems to speak more for than against a stronger trend in Appendix this direction. See Tables 2 and 3. Advanced further training or dual higher education study: a choice experiment on the influence… Page 13 of 15 4 Table 2 Utilities of applicant’s characteristics for project management position: odds ratios of the alternative-specific conditional choice model Explaining variables Odds ratio Applicant’s characteristics (first alternative) Qualification of applicant (ref.: advanced training) Bachelor‘s degree (training-integrated) 0.854 Bachelor‘s degree (practice-integrated) 0.878 Place of training applicant (ref.: own establishment) External establishment 0.89 Final mark applicant (ref.: very good) Satisfactory 0.653*** Occupational experience applicant (ref.: none) 2 years in external establishment 1.239 + 2 years in own establishment 1.550*** Occupational specialisation of applicant (ref.: matches partly) Matches fully 1.084 Alternatives (ref.: first applicant) Second applicant 0.395* Third applicant 0.785 None of the applicants 0.000*** Interaction effects with other alternatives Applicant X severity of the job decision (ref: “partly, partly”) Second applicant X “easy” 0.633* Second applicant X “difficult” 0.839 Third applicant X “easy” 0.584* Third applicant X “difficult” 0.815 None of the applicants X “easy” 0.891 None of the applicants X “difficult” 0.291 Applicant X description of the persons (ref: “sufficient”) Second applicant X “too specific” 2.002 + Second applicant X “too non-specific” 1.795 Third applicant X “too specific” 1.001 Third applicant X “too non-specific” 0.91 None of the applicants X “too specific” 872,677.7*** None of the applicants X “too non-specific” 1,259,874.3*** Applicant X task area (ref: technical area) Second applicant X commercial area 0.812 Second applicant X technical and commercial area 0.687 Second applicant X other area 0.929 Third applicant X commercial area 0.92 Third applicant X technical and commercial area 1.136 Third applicant X other area 1.37 None of the applicants X commercial area 0.296* None of the applicants X technical and commercial area 0.472 None of the applicants X other area 0.000*** Applicants X training strategy (ref: bachelor in dual studies) Second applicant X advanced further training only 1.585* Second applicant X neither 1.739* Third applicant X advanced further training only 1.077 Third applicant X neither 1.152 None of the applicants X advanced further training only 0.844 None of the applicants X neither 2.13 4 Page 14 of 15 T. Maier Table 2 (continued) Explaining variables Odds ratio Applicants X no. choice set (ref.: first) Second applicant X second choice set 1.305 Second applicant X third choice set 1.39 Third applicant X second choice set 1.169 Third applicant X third choice set 1.349 None of the applicants X second choice set 1.357 None of the applicants X third choice set 1.329 N 3159 AIC 1938.81 LL − 926.405 RCS 40 (2017). Establishments with missing values on the displayed variables excluded. Own calculations. Standard errors adjusted for 265 clusters (establishments) + p < 0.10, *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001 Received: 3 February 2020 Accepted: 13 April 2022 Table 3 Establishment size and description of applicants in percent Description of the Amount of employees Total applicants References 0 to 19 20 to 99 100 and more Acemoglu, D., Pischke, J.-S.: Why do firms train? Theory and evidence. Q. J. 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Journal for Labour Market Research – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2022
Keywords: Choice experiment; Establishment survey; Higher education; Vignette study; Bachelor’s; Advanced further training; Dual study programmes; Germany; C12; C25; C51; C88; C91; D22; D46; D83; I21; I23; J24
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