Stage 6: “Vocational Training and Transitions into the Labour Market”
Research in the Stage 6 group focuses on the transitions from school into the labour market, especially for students graduating from special education schools with an emphasis on learning disabilities and for students graduating from lower secondary schools (Hauptschule) and various middle school types (Realschule, Gesamt-/Gemeinschaftsschule). The group is especially interested in examining the reasons for the high levels of youth unemployment, and in finding out why it takes longer and longer for young people to find employment.
The research questions for Stage 6 include three topics:
1. Placement in the vocational & educational training system (VET)
The first question to ask when studying adolescents’ transitions from school to vocational training is which of these adolescents choose which kind of career-preparatory programme or regular vocational training program and for what reasons, and which kinds of occupation they tend to choose. On the one hand, we need to consider their educational achievements and skills. On the other hand, it is important to include not only their different worlds of learning, their parental and social environment, but also regional VET markets, i.e. the extent to which vocational training opportunities are available in the first place. When studying young people’s career decisions and their strategies for finding employment as trainees, it is crucial to collect data on the individual characteristics of students graduating from lower and medium-level secondary schools. First, their school biography including their certificates, grades, and transfers between classes and/or school types need to be considered. Second, information on their cognitive and non-cognitive skills, such as personality, motivation, and social skills, their occupational interests and their social environments must be gathered. Additionally, it may be examined how adolescents adopt to existing opportunities and constraints on the VET market, how determined they are in pursuing their aims in the long term, and whether they realign their aims in case their prior attempts were unsuccessful.
2. Success during the vocational training programme itself
Once adolescents have found a vocational training placement, we need to ask which of them actually complete the programme successfully. Gaining knowledge about the impact of both the company and VET school environments on the development of certain skills will allow for new insights into the process of skills acquisition of adolescents during the VET period. Additionally, we will be able to conclude which individual, institutional, and social settings have an influence on whether adolescents choose to discontinue their programme or successfully transfer from a preparatory measure into a regular VET programme.
3. Job Search and Transition into the Labour Market
When looking at the job search and the transition into the labour market, we need to examine the influence that skills, completion of VET programmes, and social factors (e.g. social networks) have on the job search and a successful transition into the labour market. The same applies when studying the effects of school or job-based educational participation on life beyond the labour market, e.g. in terms of health and satisfaction with life, or deviant or delinquent behaviour. We know that all of these factors have an influence on the transition into the labour market, but we do not know the extent to which different groups of young people are affected.