02 SES 05 C, Transitions: Apprenticeships, Learning and Sense of Self
The vocational choice at the end of compulsory school is an important decision as it significantly shapes an individual’s career and occupational identity (Neuenschwander & Nägele, 2014; Stalder & Nägele, in press). Given this high importance of a vocational choice, adolescents should continue their education and training after school in a domain that fits to their interests and abilities. Theories on vocational choice point not only to the importance of a high perceived fit with the occupation, but also on the consequences of a misfit (Holland, 1973). Most important, an individual’s potential to succeed and excel in the professional life is much higher if the individual is engaged in an occupation that fits its interests and abilities. We know that people with a higher person-occupation fit adopt more easily to new occupational situations, have a higher work performance (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005), and also a higher commitment to their occupation and employer (Nägele & Neuenschwander, 2014). Additionally, literature on personnel selection highlights the importance of subjective and objective fit criteria for a successful organizational entry, adaptation and development within the organization (Görlich & Schuler, 2007), as fit perceptions influence the attitudes, decisions, and work behaviors of the adolescents (applicants), employer and (future) colleagues (Kristof-Brown et al., 2005).
At the end of compulsory school, the perceived fit is a result of the vocational choice process, a process that typically lasts several years and has different phases (Herzog, Neuenschwander, & Wannack, 2006), as the exploration of the own interests or hands-on work experiences. Nevertheless, the final decision for an occupation and a specific apprenticeship, which is mainly determined by the adolescents values and expectations towards the future (Eccles, 2005), remains a decision under uncertainty (Neuenschwander & Hermann, 2014). Post-decision processes, as the individual’s evaluation of the decision in terms of the perceived fit, the confidence in the decision and the will to pursue the apprenticeship to its end, become important predictors of an individual’s future adaptation and development. Adaptation processes during organizational entry, which are steered by individual pro-active behaviors and organizational socialization tactics, will eventually alter the perceived person-occupation fit. These adaptation processes are highly relevant for the development within an organization (Kammeyer-Mueller, Wanberg, Rubenstein, & Song, 2013; Nägele & Neuenschwander, 2014), as an altered perceived person-occupation fit will have an impact on the individual’s evaluation of the adaptation process in terms of its satisfaction with the occupation and training company, the will to finish the apprenticeship training and also the evaluation of the learning success.
In our paper, we are going to integrate theories on occupational choice with theories on organizational socialization during organizational entry in the context of the transition from school to work. During apprenticeship, adolescents need to adapt to a social situation that is different form the social situation at school. This transition and adaptation will be smoother if the adolescents have chosen an occupation that they perceive as well fitting to their personal interests and abilities. The perceived person-occupation fit is a result of the vocational choice process. The main research questions are on the effects of the vocational choice process, the the fit perception just after organizational entry, the changes in the fit perception during the first months in the apprenticeship and the effect of the altered fit perception on relevant outcome measures of the adaptation process (satisfaction with the occupation, the training company, evaluation of the learning success and intention to finish the apprenticeship) after six months in apprenticeship.
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