Labour market outcomes of vocational education in Europe focuses on the outcomes of vocational education and, in particular, on the transition from education to work in the current employment situation for young adults in the European Union. Using anonymised microdata from the EU labour force survey 2009 ad hoc module, this is one of the first studies to undertake a large cross-country comparison of the labour market outcomes of different education orientations and levels.
The report underlines that vocational education graduates experience initially positive labour-market outcomes relative to graduates of medium-level general education. Vocational graduates enjoy a faster transition to work, are more likely to have a permanent first job, and are less likely to find a first job with a qualification mismatch. Additional country level analysis is complemented by an investigation of national institutional features as a possible explanation for cross-country differences in VET labour market outcomes.
The results indicate that VET is able to speed up the transition from education to work. Relative to medium-level general education graduates, VET graduates enjoy a faster transition to work, are more likely to have a permanent first job, and are less likely to find a first job with a qualification mismatch. These effects of VET are mostly persistent, as a similar (if slightly weaker) pattern of results applies to an individual’s current job.
In interpreting these results, it should be remembered that general education programmes tend to orient their graduates towards further education; they are more likely to continue studying, with lower participation in the labour market, particularly in the younger age groups. In contrast, VET graduates are more likely to participate in the labour market (whether employed or unemployed).
The report also shows that, in terms of labour market outcomes, there are substantial cross-country differences in the returns to VET. Young people in countries with strong VET systems, with a close connection between school and work-based components, are much more likely to be employed than their general education counterparts and to benefit from a faster transition to the labour market. Conversely, young adults in countries where the work-based component of VET is less developed experience a lower, yet generally present, VET employment premium and experience greater difficulties in labour market integration. Factoring in differences in national labour market institutions and policies suggests that success or failure of education programme orientation depends on a complex interaction between policies and institutions that are particular to each national context.
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