Is education key? The education-training-relationship and its association with the quality of (computerized) work in international comparison


“For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

— Matthew 25:29, RSV.


The education-training-relationship constitutes yet another example of the infamous “Matthew effect” as participation rates in further education and training increase with the level of initial educational attainment across countries. Differences in training participation rates between educational groups hold important implications for labor market inequalities, as they may manifest existing (dis-)advantages in terms of employment security and labor market prospects. To help reduce labor market risks and ensure equal access to job-related training independent of initial educational attainment, a better understanding of the causes and consequences of the education-training-relationship is needed. This dissertation project aims at contributing to that.

In the first part of my dissertation, I assess different explanations of why training participation rates differ by level of formal qualification using data on 28 countries from the OECD survey Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Focusing on job-related non-formal training, I examine to what extent labor market allocation (e.g., job tasks, work hours, or firm size) contributes to training gaps between educational groups, above and beyond workers’ actual skills and learning motivation, and investigate how educational and labor market institutions moderate training gaps by generating country differences in labor market allocation. For the empirical analysis, I combine regression methods with a Shapley decomposition approach.

In the second part of my dissertation, I turn to the consequences of educational inequalities in further training participation for workers’ labor market prospects in an ever-transforming world of work. In particular, I take up the long-standing debate on the upskilling or deskilling nature of computerized technologies and investigate how training participation moderates the relationship between computer use, occupational skill requirements and job satisfaction across educational groups. I again apply an internationally comparative perspective to account for the institutional embeddedness of work organization using data from the BIBB-BAuA Employment Survey for Germany and from the UK Skills Survey for the UK. For the empirical analysis, I employ Structural Equation Modelling.