Project Project
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New opportunities or reinforced disadvantages? Variation in returns to low-achieving school leavers’ participation in pre-vocational training measures (N.O.R.D.)

Research Fields
Education and Training
Project Management
01/2015 – 03/2018
funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg, Germany

The DFG-project NORD investigates the effects and returns of low-achieving school leavers’ participation in pre-vocational programs (short: pre-voc programs). While the first project (NORD 1) examines whether and how pre-voc programs help students improve their opportunities to enter  an apprenticeship, the extension project (NORD 2) focusses on the effect of pre-voc participation on the risk of dropping out of this apprenticeship positions.

Concerning access to apprenticeship training, our main research question is:

· Does participation in pre-voc programs influence the probability of subsequently entering regular apprenticeship position for low-achieving school leavers and if so, why?

To study this research question properly, we have to unravel the relationship between selection into different pre-voc programs, individual’s development during participation in pre-voc programs, and the variation in participant’s subsequent success of entering apprenticeships.

Concerning the risk of dropping out of apprenticeship training, our main research questions are:

1) Why are low-achieving school leavers more likely to drop out of apprenticeship programs than intermediate-educated school leavers?

2) And concerning the claimed goals of participation in pre-voc programs, does participation in pre-voc programs impacts on low-achieving youth’s risks of dropping out of apprenticeship programs and if so, for whom and why?

We will pay particular attention to different selection processes, the heterogeneity of VET dropouts and the causes of dropping out of VET programs.

For both projects, we will use data of NEPS (National Educational Panel Study) starting cohort 4. Low-achieving school leavers are defined as those who left regular schools and special schools for learning disabilities without a degree or with only a (advanced) lower secondary school degree. We will use ideas of the counterfactual approach to causal analysis. In cooperation with the IAB, the individual NEPS data will be linked with fine-graded, time-varying regional information (at the level of district codes/Gemeindekennziffern) on apprenticeship and entry labor markets in order to appropriately account for selectivity in transitions into pre-voc measures.

The project is not only of interest from a policy perspective but will also improve our understanding of the processes and causes of dropping out of apprenticeship programs, and thus of possibilities to counteract or alleviate the accumulations of educational disadvantages.