05 SES 13 A, Migrants, refugees and Roma youth
This paper enquires into how disadvantaged Roma young people take decisions about the main turning points of their educational and early career trajectories, in Hungary . I aim to understand how they choose among the available opportunities at decisive points in their school years and school-to-work transition (STWT). The problem is found at the intersection of two highly relevant debates: the one about early school leaving and youth NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training) on the one hand, and that of the ethnic gap with respect to post-compulsory education and labour market incorporation of Roma young people, on the other hand.
There is little empirical research on career guidance for ethnic minorities centring on young people’s experience of this transition, and none of that of Roma youth's. This paper aims to contribute to bridging this gap, offering Hungarian Roma young people’s view on the choices, support and guidance that helped their school trajectory and school-to-work transition. Concretely, this paper is guided by three research questions:
- How do Hungarian Roma young people in disadvantaged socio-economic conditions make decisions on their career throughout their schooling and school-to-work transition?
- Who/what helps them make well-informed, relevant decisions at the most important turning points of their educational and training trajectory and access to the labour market?
- What roles do guidance and counselling agents, services and activities play in their life-courses?
In order to interpret the collected data, I rely on a theoretical framework based on the intersection of school/career choice research, guidance research and the literature focusing on STWT in a rapidly changing labour market.
Main focus in the ‘90s was how parental ‘choice in education is systematically related to social class differences and the reproduction of class inequalities’ (Ball, Bowe, & Gewirtz, 1996, p. 89). Raveaud and van Zanten (2007) and Butler and van Zanten (2007) refer to underlying knowledge of the ‘local normative framework’ and particularly the schools’ ethnic mix as a factor that is seriously considered by parents when it comes to school choice. Zolnay (2006, 2016, 2018) sensibly demonstrates the role of high commuting rate in the process of school choice. Also it is crucial that schools ‘position parents in subordinate roles, in race-, class- and gender-based roles that place parents in a situation in which a decision they make […] may result in less opportunity for the children of others’ (André-Bechely, 2005, p. 271).
Similarly to class-related internalised cultural forms which eventually manifest themselves in career choices (Willis 1977), anthropologist Ogbu (1978), in his cultural-ecological model, refers to ethnic minorities’ historical adaptation to structural forces (mistreatment, discrimination, slavery, etc.) through what he calls ‘collective responses’. Collective responses manifest themselves in complex belief systems (‘community forces’) with respect to societal institutions. Race/ethnicity differences do not seem to influence the career aspirations (hopes, dreams) of young people. However, minorities tend to perceive lower career opportunities and stronger barriers to career attainment than their mainstream peers (Fouad & Byars-Winston, 2005). Social class influences individuals through their ‘differential status identity’ (Fouad and Brown 2000). While effective guidance is persistently shown to reduce the risk of later dropout, and improve work-related factors (Holland & Mann, 2020). Paradoxically, disadvantaged students tend to have less access to career guidance, while advantaged students are more likely to receive it (Mann et al., 2020). Also, in vocational tracks, where disadvantaged students tend to be overrepresented, attention to guidance is often weaker than in academic tracks (Musset & Kurekova, 2018).
I have collected data in Hungary in South Transdanubia, in a county capital and its surrounding villages among Roma young people of 18 to 30 years of age, through life-course interviews. Also, I conducted interviews with workers of significant pro-Roma and Roma NGOs, educational experts, VET and adult education teachers, as well as other experts in public employment. All together I base my knowledge on 35 interviews with Roma young people, and 27 experts. Most interviews were made personally, and some due to COVID-19 pandemic via video-calls. This paper is based on 7 case studies , strategically selected from the interviews, aiming to represent three distinct groups of youth, with respect to guidance services. Our major interest is the informants’ interpretation of the facts. That is, I do not aim to double check informants’ accounts, for example, on whether they had individual or collective career guidance sessions in elementary school in order to support their secondary school choice. It might be the case that there actually were several sessions, but our informants do not remember having them, which means that they were irrelevant for them, thus they did not influence their choice in any sense.
Findings will suggest that far from reaching EU strategic goals, and international recommendations, the messy set of guidance agents, services and activities in Hungary tends to be contingent, discontinuous, disconnected, segmented, non-specialized and biased. Almost any guidance or counselling activity contributed positively to our informants’ careers. However, whether or not Roma young people have contact with professional guidance is a question of chance rather than a taken-for-granted fact. The paper concludes that the present state of guidance provision during and after the school years is incapable of performing its main functions and leaves Roma young people in a vulnerable situation in an exploitive labour market. Nevertheless, through their agency they can often substitute lacking services with alternative support mechanisms, which can result successful in their school-to-work transition.
André-Bechely, L. (2005). Public school choice at the intersection of voluntary integration and not-so-good neighborhood schools: Lessons from parents’ experiences. Educational Administration Quarterly, 41(2), 267–305. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X04269593 Ball, S. J., Bowe, R., & Gewirtz, S. (1996). School choice, social class and distinction: the realization of social advantage in education. Journal of Education Policy, 11(1), 89–112. Butler, T., & van Zanten, A. (2007). School choice: a European perspective. Journal of Education Policy, 22(1), 1–5. Fouad, N. A., & Byars-Winston, A. M. (2005). Cultural context of career choice: Meta-analysis of race/ethnicity differences. Career Development Quarterly, 53(3), 223–233. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-0045.2005.tb00992.x Holland, K., & Mann, A. (2020). How Estonia is delivering online career guidance during the coronavirus crisis. OECD Education and Skills Today, April 15, 1–9. Mann, A., Denis, V., Schleicher, A., Ekhtiari, H., Forsyth, T., Liu, E., & Chambers, N. (2020). Dream Jobs? Teenagers’ Career Aspirations and the Future of Work. Paris: OECD Publishing. Musset, P., & Kurekova, L. M. (2018). Working it out: Career Guidance and Employer Engagement. OECD Education Working Papers No. 175. Paris: OECD Directorate for Education and Skills. https://doi.org/10.1787/51c9d18d-en Ogbu, J. U. (1978). Minority Education and Caste. New York: Academic Press. Perry, Brea L., Elizabeth Martinez, Edward Morris, Tanja C. Link, and Carl Leukefeld. 2016. ‘Misalignment of Career and Educational Aspirations in Middle School: Differences across Race, Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Status’. Social Sciences 5 (3 (35)): 1–10. doi:10.3390/socsci5030035 Radó, Péter. 2020. Social Selection in Education: The Wider Context of the Segregation of Roma Pupils in Hungary. CPS Working Paper Series. Vol. 4. Budapest Raveaud, M., & van Zanten, A. (2007). Choosing the local school: middle class parents’ values and social and ethnic mix in London and Paris. Journal of Education Policy, 22(1), 107–124. Walther, Andreas. 2006. ‘Regimes of Youth Transitions. Choice, Flexibility and Security in Young People’s Experiences across Different European Contexts’. Young. Nordic Journal of Youth Research 14 (2): 119–139. doi:10.1177/1103308806062737 Zolnay, J. (2006). Kényszerek és választások. Oktatáspolitika és etnikai szegregáció Miskolc és Nyíregyháza általános iskoláiban. Esély, 4, 48–71. Zolnay, J. (2016). Kasztosodó közoktatás, kasztosodó társadalom. Esély, 6, 70–97. Zolnay, J. (2018). Commuting to segregation the role of pupil commuting in a hungarian city: Between school segregation and inequality. Szociológiai Szemle, 28(4), 133–151
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