Are courses chosen to reduce skill deficiencies? An experimental approach

Bart Golsteyn, ROA, 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 3000 participants. 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 default 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 people with more cognitive abilities and with better ability to imagine the future have a higher probability to make a deliberate choice. People who worked hard at college tend to choose courses connected to their skill deficiencies, while workers with a hedonic life-style do not.

Date: 11 October-00 0000