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PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Paper Session 3B: Educational structures, transitions to higher education and into the labour market
Thursday, 03/Feb/2022:
10:30am - 12:00pm

Location: Room 2

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Opening the Black Box of Vocationally Oriented Schools in Germany: How do Organizational Structures and Pedagogical Practices Support Access to Higher Education?

Nadine Dörffer1, Nadine Bernhard2, Christian Imdorf1

1Leibniz University Hannover, Germany; 2Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany

While vocationally oriented schools are often reduced in public and partly in academic discourses to schools that simply complement company-based training in the dual VET system, the German education system also includes a variety of different full-time vocationally oriented school-types, which offer different sorts of higher education entrance qualifications (HEEQ). These alternative routes to gain a HEEQ via vocationally oriented schools offering the opportunity to study at higher education (HE) institutions are especially important for students from families without an academic background. However, the actual redemption of a HEEQ proves to be particularly susceptible to the reproduction of social educational inequalities since these students without an academic background are more likely to forego their study options. Based on the concept of institutional permeability, we assume that formally enabling HE access by granting a HEEQ is necessary but insufficient to ensure educational and social mobility, and that further institutional support structures and practices are needed. The aim of this paper is to get a first insight into how students’ transitions to HE are supported and to what extent organizational structures and pedagogical practices in supporting them to access HE differ between individual vocationally oriented schools, considering their school type. Based on semi-structured qualitative interviews, this qualitative reconstructive study shows and compares the range of support structures and practices reported by pedagogical staff at selected schools of different vocationally oriented school types in Lower Saxony. The study also gives insights in the school’s adaptations of the support for high school students caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Better entry conditions. The effect of occupation-specific experience on transitions from higher vocational education and training to the labour market


Eidgenössische Hochschule für Berufsbildung, Switzerland

Previous research indicates that occupation-specific skills and knowledge provided during VET are associated with higher salaries or lower risks of unemployment at labour market entry (Grønning et al., 2020). It remains unclear, however, if occupation-specific work experience also affects the subjective evaluation of the work situation at labour market entry. This topic is especially relevant if we consider the transition from higher vocational education to the labour market because some of these graduates have prior work experience as an apprentice while others enter their studies directly after a general baccalaureate.

For the empirical analysis we focus on the Swiss healthcare sector. Almost 50% of the graduates in nursing studies have previously acquired a Diploma as a healthcare assistant, a VET occupation on the upper secondary level (Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS), 2021). The remaining students enter nursing studies directly with a baccalaureate or another VET diploma (Schaffert et al., 2015). Registered nurses who initially obtained a VET-diploma as a healthcare assistant possess specific work experience which may facilitate their labour market entry. They may have already acquired strategies for stress management during their initial vocational training (Humpel & Caputi, 2001) and have a better understanding of the role and work of registered nurses due to their professional experiences. We postulate that this pre-existing work experience as a healthcare assistant increases work satisfaction and occupational commitment by reducing stress and increasing role clarity at labour market entry.

Preliminary results based on structural equation modelling indicate that registered nurses with a VET Diploma as healthcare assistant exhibit lower levels of stress and higher levels of occupational role clarity than their colleagues without specific work experience from the healthcare sector. The beneficial effect of initial work experience in turn increases their occupational commitment and job satisfaction.

Horizontal mobility of healthcare assistants and registered nurses in the Swiss healthcare system

Miriam Grønning, Miriam Hänni, Ines Trede

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

Previous research has identified a trade-off between educating skilled workers ready for the labour market and securing these workers’ flexibility when labour market demands change. Considering the high skill shortage in the healthcare sector, the healthcare education reform in Switzerland at the beginning of the 2000s explicitly addressed this trade-off. In addition to the popular tertiary level registered nurse education, a new upper secondary apprenticeship qualification “healthcare assistant” was established. Both qualifications have curricula designed with a general orientation, aimed at facilitating individual mobility between segments and securing flexibility within the healthcare system when staffing needs change. Nevertheless, little is known about healthcare assistants’ and registered nurses’ horizontal mobility patterns after they finished their education and training. We therefore examine how often and in which direction mobility occurs during healthcare assistants’ and registered nurses’ early career. We draw upon segmentation theory, assuming that allocation to labour market segments influences individuals’ opportunity structures and thereby also their career decisions. Previous research has shown that initial segment allocation impacts individuals vertical mobility chances, by shaping individuals’ perceptions of their career possibilities. It remains unclear if segment allocation influences horizontal mobility within the healthcare system as well. We find that almost half of the healthcare staff transitions into another segment than their initial segment during the first five years of their career. Those who start their career in segments with extensive opportunities, i.e. acute care in hospitals, less often experience horizontal mobility than those who start in a segment with less opportunities, e.g. long term care in nursing homes. Change from long term care and rehabilitation to the more attractive acute segment is the most common type of mobility. Thus, a general orientation of the training programme alone does not seem to counteract staff shortages in segments with less opportunities.

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