02 SES 06 B, Career Choice and Career Competences
Being accepted as an integrated member of achievement-oriented societies is highly based on one’s integration into the labour market. A key requirement of integration into the labour market can be seen in the successful transition from school to work (Blossfeld et al., 2011; Kogan et al., 2011). Concerning the successful entry into working life, two transitions are crucial: The first transition from compulsory school into vocational education and training, or another post-compulsory education, and the second transition into the labour market. Based on a process model of vocational orientation (Gebhardt et al., 2015), the transition from school to work is understood as a long-term, active and constructive process that emerges from perceptions und experiences of youth embedded in a different range of opportunities (Müller, 2009).
Switzerland has a low unemployment rate and a well-established system of vocational education and training. A large percentage of youth gain direct access to vocational education and training after compulsory school. Because of this well-known successful structure, the youth experience high pressure to be successful during the transitional process. This is even more crucial, as the transition can be seen as highly decisive for further success in labour market as well as for one’s social position (e.g. Stolz & Gonon, 2013). Nevertheless, about 25% face challenges and failures while trying to manage the transition from school to vocational education and training (Kriesi et al., 2016; Berweger et al., 2013). Youth who fail to enter vocational education and training directly, are often challenged regarding their vocational orientation. In this context, several studies report correlations between difficulties concerning the (first) transition and several risk factors (Scharenberg et al., 2016; Häfeli & Schellenberg, 2009). Consequently, research should focus specifically on youth who are at risk not to find a direct path into working life and on the support services available to them.
While there are several studies with a limited focus regarding specific sections within the transitional process into working life, there are only a few which present a broader focus on the whole vocational orientation process (e.g. TREE-Study by Bertschy et al., 2007; FASE B by Neuenschwander et al., 2010). Furthermore “risk patterns” is a fuzzy concept within the vocational orientation process. As “youth at risk” cannot be seen as a homogeneous group, there should be more research that takes into account a combination of different risk factors and according to different youth groups.
The current study aims at analysing the transition from compulsory school to vocational education and training and further into the labour market, as an active and decision-making process, which is limited to a range of possibilities. Referring to the outlined lack of research, the study seeks to answer the following research questions:
(1) Which patterns of risk can be identified and characterized within the vocational orientation process?
(2) How do participants of different risk patterns describe their individual vocational orientation process?
To acquire a better understanding concerning the complex and long-term transitional process from compulsory school to vocational education and training, and further into the labour market, we combined a quantitative survey and a qualitative study that were both carried out in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. This mixed-methods approach is designed as an explanatory sequential design, as the qualitative sampling procedure was based on results compiled within the quantitative study (Cresswell, 2014). Quantitative data was gathered using a standardized questionnaire, including participants involved in a longitudinal sample (questionnaires distributed in 8th and 9th grade, and three years after), and young people who attended a specific transitional program (one year of pre-vocational training) during 2010, 2011 and 2012. The questionnaire contains questions and items concerning risk factors, transitional paths and the usage of and perceived support provided by several support services. The validity and reliability of the used scales were proven. The identification of different risk patterns (research question (1)) was tackled applying latent class analysis (Muthén & Muthén, 1998-2012; Collins & Lanza, 2010). Various individual (e.g. gender, migrant background, academic achievements), family-based (e.g. educational aspirations of parents, relationship to parents), school-related (e.g. support provided by school, special career lessons and teachers) and workplace-related (e.g. perception of one’s own autonomy and competence in the course of an apprenticeship) risk factors were included within the latent class analysis (based on Häfeli & Schellenberg, 2009). The sampling process concerning the collection of qualitative data was based on the identified distinct risk patterns, due to the researchers’ aim to interview participants with different combinations of risk factors. Twelve problem-centred interviews were conducted and analysed by using qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2015). To gain a deeper understanding regarding vocational orientation of youth with different risk patterns (research question (2)), perceptions of interviewed participants about their individual experiences and thoughts on their vocational orientation process were analysed.
(1) The results of the latent class analysis indicate the existence of three different risk patterns. The first pattern (66% of total sample) is characterised by a “good initial position, many social resources”, because participants exemplify high academic achievements, a prosperous socio-economic background, seldom migrant background, well-perceived vocational preparation provided by school, and supportive parents. The risk level of the second group (13% of total sample) can be designated as “moderate initial position, few social resources”. In comparison with the two other groups, academic achievements as well as the socio-economic background are middle-sized, while the perceived parental pressure is relatively high and relationships with their parents are rated quite low. The third group (21% of total sample) can be described with “bad initial position, many social resources”, because academic achievements and socio-economic background are considerably lower compared to the two other groups, whereas support provided by parents, school and occupational players is assessed relatively high. (2) All interviewees report career choice readiness as most challenging regarding their vocational orientation process. Participants of the risk pattern “good initial position, many social resources” describe having long-term occupational aims but also having to (occasionally) adjust them due to their aims being unfulfilled or unrealistic. These participants stated to have had enough information during vocational orientation. Furthermore, they report high pressure caused by parental expectations. In contrast, participants of the risk pattern “moderate initial position, few social resources” rarely report an existing vocational orientation, one main challenge being a perceived lack of information. They explain that occupation-related decisions were coincidental. In the group “bad initial position, many social resources”, vocational orientation was described as being self-regulated, while the challenges were experiencing failures while trying to find an appropriate apprenticeship and individual deficits such as allergies or depressions during vocational orientation process.
Bertschy, K., Böni, E. & Meyer, T. (2007). An der zweiten Schwelle: Junge Menschen im Übergang zwischen Ausbildung und Arbeitsmarkt. Ergebnisübersicht des Jugendlängsschnitts TREE, Update 2007. Bern: TREE. Berweger, S., Krattenmacher, S., Salzmann, P. & Schönenberger, S. (2013). LiSA. Lernende im Spannungsfeld von Ausbildungserwartungen, Ausbildungsrealität und erfolgreicher Erstausbildung. St. Gallen: Pädagogische Hochschule St.Gallen. Blossfeld, H.-P., Hofacker, D., Bertolini, S. (2011). Youth on Globalised Labour Markets: rising Uncertainty and its Effects on Early Employment and Family Lives in Europe. Opladen: Budrich. Collins, L. M. & Lanza, S. T. (2010). Latent Class and Latent Transition Analysis. With Applications in the Social, Behavioral and Health Sciences. Hoboken, New Jersey: Johl Wiley & Sons. Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Gebhardt, A., Schönenberger, S., Brühwiler, C. & Salzmann, P. (2015). Relevanz, Nutzungshäufigkeit und eingeschätzte Nützlichkeit unterschiedlicher Unterstützungsangebote aus Sicht von Jugendlichen während des Berufsorientierungsprozesses. Wirtschaft und Erziehung, 67(7), 38-49. Häfeli, K., & Schellenberg, C. (2009). Erfolgsfaktoren in der Berufsbildung bei gefährdeten Jugendlichen. Bern: EDK. Kogan, I., Noelke, C. and Gebel, M. (2011). Making the transition: education and labor market entry in Central and Eastern Europe. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Kriesi, I., Neumann, J., Schweri, J., Griga, D., Kuhn, A., Schmid, E. and Baumeler, C. (2016). Bleiben? Gehen? Neu beginnen? Häufigkeit, Ursachen und Folgen von Lehrvertragsauflösungen. Zollikofen: Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Berufsbildung EHB. Mayring, P. (2015). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. 12. überarbeitete Auflage. Weinheim & Basel: Beltz Verlag. Müller, R. (2009). Berufswahl und Lehre. Berufliche Orientierungs- und Entscheidungsprozesse bei ausländischen und schweizerischen Jugendlichen. Bern: hep Verlag. Muthén, L.K. & Muthén, B.O. (1998-2012). Mplus User’s Guide. Seventh Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén. Neuenschwander, M. P., Frey, M., Gerber-Schenk, M. & Rottermann, B. (2010). Übergang von der Schule in den Beruf im Kanton Zürich: Herausforderungen und Erfolgsfaktoren. Solothurn: FHNW. Scharenberg, K., Hupka-Brunner, S., Meyer, T., and Bergmann, M. M. (2016). Transitionen im Jugend- und jungen Erwachsenenalter. Ergebnisse der Schweizer Längsschnittstudie TREE (Vol. 2). Zürich: Seismo Verlag. Stolz, S. & Gonon, P. (2013). Übergangssysteme im Spannungsfeld von Exklusion und Inklusion –eine vergleichende Perspektive. In J. Rottman, G. Böheim-Galehr, C. Brühwiler & P. Gonon (Hrsg.), Berufsorientierung und regionales Übergangsmanagement in der Internationalen Bodenseeregion. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang, S. 81-94.
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