Discussion paper

DP12 Technical Education 1850-1914: Speculations on Human Capital Formation

In the late 19th century, the industrial countries of Europe and North America developed very different systems of technical education for the workforce. Some emphasised full-time instruction, largely state-financed, while others relied on part time instruction, financed by employees and seen as a supplement to work-place training. The paper suggests that the insights of human capital theory are useful in describing and understanding these systems and that the differences between them should be seen as rational responses to differing economic and social structures rather than to irrationality on the part of governments or entrepreneurs. Part-time training in Britain, in particular, is seen as suited to skills and educational level of British workers and to a fluid system of promotion within British industry.


Floud, R (1984), ‘DP12 Technical Education 1850-1914: Speculations on Human Capital Formation‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 12. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp12