October 2022

IZA DP No. 15689: Does Updating Education Curricula Accelerate Technology Adoption in the Workplace? Evidence from Dual Vocational Education and Training Curricula in Switzerland

Tobias Schultheiss, Uschi Backes-Gellner

published online in: Journal of Technology Transfer, 28 November 2022

In an environment of accelerating technological change and increasing digitalization, firms need to adopt new technologies faster than ever before to stay competitive. This paper examines whether updates of education curricula help to bring new technologies faster into firms' workplaces. We study technology changes and curriculum updates from an early wave of digitalization (i.e., computernumerically controlled machinery, computer-aided design, and desktop publishing software). We take a text-as-data approach and tap into two novel data sources to measure change in educational content and the use of technology at the workplace: first, vocational education curricula and, second, firms' job advertisements. To examine the causal effects of adding new technology skills to curricula on the diffusion of these technologies in firms' workplaces (measured by job advertisements), we use an event study design. Our results show that curriculum updates substantially shorten the time it takes for new technologies to arrive in firms' workplaces, especially for mainstream firms.