ERG SES D 05, Secondary Education
The Nordic countries are often described as high skills societies (see eg. Lloyd and Payne 2004). Still, in the Nordic countries, the unemployment rate is low even for those with little formal education (see eg. Bratsberg et al. 2011).The heterogeneity within the group of people with little formal education and what characterises their jobs is less explored. This paper draws on research on adult learning, skills and transition from education to work in different national contexts. Using a household survey combined with register data, from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Estonia, I will study the employment among people who have not completed upper secondary school, and the variation in access to employment between these countries. Thus, the main focus will be people in a potential marginal position, and how they may overcome the barrier of not having obtained formal education.
The research questions are:
1. When lacking upper secondary school, how do skills affect employment? Are there differences between different age groups, and across the Nordic countries?
2. What are the qualities of the jobs possessed by those who have not completed upper secondary school in different Nordic countries, in terms of temporary/permanent contracts, wages and learning opportunities?
Human capital theorists claim that education enhances a person’s skills and leads to a higher productivity level in the workplace, which in turn will bring a higher wage to the person (Becker 1964). Critics question the ability of human capital theory to provide a good explanation of how employers screen their employees (Tan 2014). Prior studies show that formal education is but one form of “human capital” and deficits in it can be remedied by a number of means, one of which is on-the-job training (Skule and Reichborn 2000; Skule et al. 2002; Nyen 2005). According to Rubenson and Desjardin (2009), adult learning can be seen to promote competencies that help individuals adapt to the demands of the knowledge driven economy and enable full participation in economic and social life. Adult learning carries an element of social inclusion: for those who fail in the formal educational system, adult learning opens up for alternative routes to participation (Desjardin and Rubenson 2009). According to Dieckhoff (2007), especially for low-skilled workers continuing training could increase their flexibility and enable them to perform jobs with higher levels of task complexity. Certain trades and industries are, however, more “learning intensive” than others and selection into learning intensive jobs correlates with educational background (Nyen 2005; Dæhlen & Nyen 2009). Thus, it is important to explore the learning opportunities among people with little formal education. This may differ according to individual variables, conditions in the firm or industry, as well as institutional educational system and the national labour market situation.
Scholars within the transition literature state that the role of education for labour market attainment and stratification is conditioned by institutional context (Müller and Shavit 1998). Busemeyer (2014) states that there is a high level of statism, characterized by high levels of public spending on education, in the provision of education in both Sweden and Finland. The Norwegian VET system is considered collective skill regime, albeit with more public involvement than in Denmark (Nyen and Tønder 2014).The different Nordic educational systems all fall into the category of coordinated market economies. Still, they are distinguished by certain aspects regarding unemployment rate and labour market security. A cross national perspective will reveal the impact of different labour market conditions, labour market regulation and other structural differences in the skill formation systems.
Becker, G.S. (1964): Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education. New York : National Bureau of Economic Research Bowman, J.R. (2005): Employers and the Politics of Skill Formation in a Coordinated Market Economy: Collective Action and Class Conflict in Norway. Politics and Society 2005 33:567 Bratsberg, B, Raaum (2011): Utdannings- og arbeidskarrierer hos unge voksne: Hvor havner ungdom slutter i skolen i ung alder? Rapport nr. 3/2011. Oslo: Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research, Norway. Busemeyer, M.R. (2014): Skills and Inequality. Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States. Cambridge University Press Busemeyer, M. R and Trampusch, C. (2011): The Comparative Political Economy of Collective Skill Fomation. Dieckhoff. M. (2007): Does it Work? The Effect of Continuing Training on Labour Market Outcomes: A Comparative Study of Germany, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. European Sociological Review 23:3 Dæhlen, M. and Nyen, T. (2009): Livslang læring i norsk arbeidsliv. Resultater fra Lærevilkårsmonitoren 2009. Fafo-notat 2009:22 Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2004): “Idle Fancy” or “Concrete Will”? Defining and realising a high skills vision for the UK. SKOPE Research Paper No. 47 Spring 2004 Müller, W. and Shavit, Y. (1998): The Institutional Embeddedness of the Stratification Process: A Comparative Study of Qualifications and Occupations in Thirteen Countries. In Shavit, Y. and Müller, W. (eds.): From School to Work by Oxford: Oxford University Press Nyen, T. and Tønder, A. H. (2014). Yrkesfagene under press. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget Nyen, T. (2005), Livslang læring i norsk arbeidsliv II. Resultater fra Lærevilkårsmonitoren 2005. Fafo-rapport 501 Rubenson, K. and Desjardin, R. (2009): The impact of welfare state regimes on barriers to participation in adult education. A bounded agency model. Adult Education Quarterly 59:3 Skule, S., Stuart, M. and Nyen, T. (2002): “International briefing 12: Training and development in Norway”. International Journal of Training and Development 6:4 Skule S, and Reichborn, AN (2000): Lærende arbeid – en kartlegging av lærevilkår i norsk arbeidsliv. Fafo-rapport 333, Oslo Tan, Emrullah (2014): Human Capital Theory: A Holistic Criticism. Review of educational research 2014 84:411
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