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PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Paper Session 5A: The role of different types of skills in the recruitment process
Thursday, 03/Feb/2022:
4:05pm - 5:35pm

Location: Room 1

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Do Recruiters Select Workers with Different Personality Traits for Different Tasks? A Discrete Choice Experiment

Caroline WEHNER, Andries de Grip, Harald Pfeifer

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Germany

This paper explores whether firms recruit workers with different personality traits for different tasks. We conduct a discrete choice experiment among recruiters of 634 firms in Germany, asking recruiters to choose between job applicants who differed according to seven characteristics: professional competence, the “Big Five” personality traits, and the prospective wage level. We find that all personality traits affect the hiring probability of the job applicant, with conscientiousness and agreeableness having the strongest effects. However, for analytical tasks, recruiters prefer more open and conscientious applicants, while favoring more open, extraverted, and agreeable workers for interactive tasks.

How Do Employers Value Non-Formal University Credentials in Recruitment Processes?

Aranya SRITHARAN, Ladina Rageth, Ursula Renold

ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Universities in Switzerland offer more and more non-formal education. While targeted at a specific group of adults, the distinction between the non-formal programmes and formal programmes at Swiss universities is not always clear. Additionally, unlike the formal education programmes, non-formal education at universities is also open to adults with a vocational and professional education and training (VPET) background, provided they have a sufficient number of work experience. For the study at hand, we analyse the following: 1) Do employers taking hiring decisions distinguish between formal and non-formal university education? 2) Do employers reward applicants with a VPET background that acquired non-formal credentials at a university? and 3) Do employers exhibit preferences when comparing applicants with mixed educational paths to those with a purely academic education? Using data from more than 2000 employers participating in a quasi-experimental survey, we answer these questions by looking at employer’s ratings of applicant profiles and salary offers. Our results show that employers do not distinguish between formal and non-formal credentials for applicants with a Bachelor’s degree as a basis, but do reward non-formal education at universities for applicants with a VPET background. Generally, employers seem to prefer mixed education paths (i.e. VPET and academic) to purely academic pathways.

Education Preferences in Recruitment: What Affects Employers’ Preferences for Vocational versus General Education?


ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Albeit vocational and professional education and training (VPET) being very popular in Switzerland, general education is more and more in demand. The question arises whether vocational and general education compete over the same positions on the labour market. Based on a case study in Switzerland, this paper analyses the effect of employers and firm characteristics on employers’ education preferences in the hiring process. We hypothesize that due to their high signalling of employability, employers prefer applicants with a VPET degree and that this preference is even stronger for employers who have a high familiarity with the VPET system. Based on a factorial survey experiment among employers in Switzerland, we investigate their preferences for two kinds of positions. For entry-level positions, we investigate whether applicants with a vocational education and training (VET) have a higher probability to be invited to a job interview than those with a general upper-secondary education. For high-level positions, we analyse whether applicants with a professional education and training (PET) at the tertiary level have a higher probability than those with a university degree. Our preliminary findings show that employers generally prefer applicants with a VET or PET degree to those with a general or university degree – except for the position as IT manager. Moreover, employers who are more familiar with the Swiss VPET system show a stronger preference for applicants with such degrees, which is in line with signalling, screening and social identity theories.

Income risks of vocational and academic tertiary education - More money, higher risks?


University of Wuerzburg, Germany

This paper investigates labour market outcomes of vocational vs. academic education. More specifically, lifetime earnings and earnings risks of employees with apprenticeship education plus either academic education (“academics”) or a vocational tertiary education (“foremen”) are compared. We contribute to the academic and political discussion on the relative attractiveness of vocational vs. academic education.

First, we investigate earnings differences of foremen and academics. Administrative data on employees in Germany between 1975 and 2017 allow us to calculate factual earnings paths for employees up to 30 years after completing their apprenticeship. Second, we calculate income risks for both employee groups: the variation in earnings and differences in higher order moments, i. e. the skewness and kurtosis of wage shocks. Finally, we condition on a successful apprenticeship and use entropy balancing to reduce a potential selection bias when comparing earnings of tertiary vocational and academic education.

Overall, our results show that foremen have an advantage in terms of earnings and income risks at the beginning of their career. In the long-term, however, academics enjoy higher earnings and relatively low earnings risks compared to foremen.

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