Do Apprentices Substitute for Paid Workers? Evidence from an Experiment with Ghanaian Microenterprises

This study conducts a two-stage randomized controlled trial involving a government-sponsored apprenticeship training program to examine the impacts of apprenticeship labour inputs on different firm outcomes. 

Apprentices account for approximately 80% of the labour input in Ghanaian microenterprises, yet there is little known about firm demand for apprentices, the extent to which they substitute for salaried workers, and the impacts on firm productivity. This project aims to examine the returns to apprenticeship labour inputs on firm outcomes such as profits and revenues, but also on subsequent labour hiring decisions.

The team conduct a two-stage randomized controlled trial – in the first stage, applicants were randomly assigned to a government sponsored apprenticeship training program. In the second stage, those assigned to the training program were paired with training firms for their apprenticeship. By studying firm level data throughout the apprenticeship and beyond, they will be able to examine firm labour responses before and after the training period is complete.

As the project builds on an existing impact evaluation on apprenticeship training conducted in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the National Board for Small Scale Industries in Ghana, it will have a unique platform to disseminate results to influential policymakers.