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Failure or flexibility? exits from apprenticeship training in pre-modern Europe

Schalk, Ruben, Wallis, Patrick, Crowston, Clare and Lemercier, Claire (2016) Failure or flexibility? exits from apprenticeship training in pre-modern Europe. Economic History Working Papers (252/2016). London School of Economics and Political Science, Economic History Department, London, UK.

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Preindustrial apprenticeship is often considered more stable than its nineteenth- and twentieth century counterparts, apparently because of the more durable relationships between masters and apprentices. Nevertheless, recent studies have suggested that many of those who started apprenticeships did not finish them. This paper examines how often individuals who had begun the process of qualification for skilled work failed to complete it, and how many conversely achieved local mastership. We provide new evidence on the completion of over 7,000 contracts across several cities in three countries. Even though apprenticeship regulation varied, in all cases a substantial minority of youths entering apprenticeship contracts failed to complete them. In turn, only a minority of journeymen would attain the status of masters. We consider the nature, frequency and causation of these failures. At least some exits reflect the balance of opportunities that youths faced, while obtaining mastership was affected by local and kin ties. By allowing premature exits, cities and guilds sustained labour markets by lowering the risks of entering long training contracts. Training flexibility was a pragmatic response to labour market tensions.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, and Vacancies > J62 - Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N33 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N43 - Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N9 - Regional and Urban History > N93 - Europe: Pre-1913
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2016 14:28
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2021 00:25
Projects: 320294
Funders: European Union

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