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PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Paper Session 1A: Educational and occupational choice
Wednesday, 02/Feb/2022:
1:30pm - 3:00pm

Location: Room 1

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Student engagement in relation to educational choice at upper secondary school: Longitudinal approach


University of Iceland, Iceland

Getting more young people to choose vocational education and training (VET) when entering upper secondary education is a priority in educational policy, both across Europe as well as in Iceland where the enrolment rate in VET has been one of the lowest. VET pathways generally have lower status in comparison to general academic education and in Iceland there is a strong societal emphasis on academic education. Prior research has revealed that many youngsters choose academic pathways despite being more interested in VET and tend to be more uncertain about their choice. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between students’ engagement in relation to their educational choice at upper secondary school using a longitudinal approach. Engagement was measured with a questionnaire at age 15 at the end of compulsory education (participants were 81% of 10th grade public-school population in the Reykjavík’s area) and again at age 18 when enrolled in upper secondary school.

The results show that students who went on to choose VET in upper secondary school had generally lower engagement in 10th grade compared to those who chose academic programs. The opposite was found to be the case after entering upper secondary school; at 18 VET students generally showed more engagement compared to academic students, with the exception of social engagement with school. The findings suggest that in Iceland, compulsory education does not hold as much appeal for adolescents who chose VET compared to those who chose academic programs. In addition, the findings indicate that that those who eventually choose VET do so more deliberately than many choosing academic programs. At the same time, the decreasing engagement of those choosing academic pathways suggests that these students are making a non-intuitive educational choice.

Too young to choose -- does pupils' age shape their track choice after compulsory schooling?

Manuel AEPLI1, Jürg Schweri2

1SFIVET, Switzerland; 2SFIVET, Switzerland

In this paper we investigate the effect of age on pupils' track decision at the end of compulsory schooling in Switzerland. This decision includes both choosing between general and vocational education and -- if starting an apprenticeship -- choosing between roughly 240 training occupations. We apply an instrumental variable design and exploit different cantonal school entrance cutoff dates to instrument pupils' actual school leaving age with their expected school leaving age based on cantonal laws. We show that older pupils are more likely to enter the general track and less likely to start an apprenticeship. If they do start an apprenticeship, they opt more often for a socially demanding training occupation.

Does School Ethnic Diversity affect Occupational Choices?


1University of Zurich, Switzerland; 2University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

This paper analyzes how the ethnic diversity of school peers affects occupational choice. We differentiate between two dimensions of ethnic diversity shown to shape intergroup relationships: ethnic fractionalization and ethnic polarization. Using longitudinal data on the universe of students in compulsory schooling in Switzerland and exploiting variation in ethnic diversity across cohorts within schools, we find evidence for two opposing effects of ethnic diversity. Ethnic fractionalization increases the likelihood of students sorting into social- and healthcare-oriented occupations at the cost of reduced enrollment in business-related occupations. However, the presence of high ethnic polarization nullifies the effect of ethnic fractionalization, thereby reducing the likelihood of students choosing care-oriented occupations. We discuss potential mechanisms behind these effects.

New information, new interests? The effect of an occupation finder for dual vocational education and training on students' occupational choice

Maria Esther OSWALD-EGG

ETH Zürich, Switzerland

When making career-defining decisions such as choosing an occupation, individuals should be well-informed. This study analyses the effect of a low-cost, personalised online information intervention on the number of occupations in which students considering dual vocational education and training (VET) apply for work shadowing. Using data from Yousty AG, one of the largest online platforms in Switzerland for dual VET positions, I exploit their introduction of an occupation finder -- a tool for suggesting occupations matching student's stated preferences -- with a regression discontinuity design. My findings show that the introduction of the occupation finder broadens the set of occupations for which students apply by roughly 0.3, and using the occupation finder results in students applying to six additional occupations. Subgroup analysis shows that the introduction of the occupation finder especially affects students living in urban areas. Thus, it is possible to provide low-cost tailored information to students to broaden their occupational interests in a VET system where dual VET positions are allocated via an apprenticeship market.

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