Education — whether through formal instruction in schools, or through on-the-job training — is essential in the development of skills. And skills matter for workers’ productive capacity: that is, how we apply ourselves in our working lives. While there is a considerable body of research on the role of education in raising labour quality and output, there is much that remains unknown — or at least empirically unverified. One of the big question marks relates to the effects of different types of skills and education.
In a recently published paper, Diebolt et al. (2021) offer a fresh perspective on how industrialisation influenced the demand for skills. They consider specific types of education in nineteenth century France, and show a relationship between the rise of the steam engine and the accumulation of practical skills with technical applications.→