In this paper, we evaluate the education-to-employment transitions of young people in the years immediately following the end of their compulsory schooling and as they enter the labour market for the first time. We construct their detailed post-school histories and examine their early labour market experiences, in order to address three main research questions:
1. What are the principal pathways taken through compulsory, further, and higher education into the labour market by young people in England?
2. What are the earnings and employment differentials associated with the different pathways? Do some routes lead to better labour market outcomes than others for the same qualification level outcomes?
3. Can the pathways individuals follow after the end of compulsory schooling be robustly predicted based on their characteristics while still at school? If so, is it possible to identify the (groups of) individuals more likely to make pathway choices which lead to poorer labour market outcomes, including NEET (not in education, employment or training)?
We utilise the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE), a sample of the cohort who completed their compulsory schooling in July 2006, aged 16. We are able to identify their education and employment status over the 45-months from September 2006 until May 2010, and then to observe their labour market activity in 2015 at age 25, some 9 years after they competed their compulsory education.
We use sequence analysis in combination with cluster analysis to identify groups of individuals who experience more similar education-to-employment transitions. We then examine the characteristics that could potentially be used to target those who are more at risk of poorer education and early labour market outcomes. As well as GCSE performance at age 16, particularly in Maths and English, we find that attitudes towards HE formed by age 14 and parental advice and aspirations are all important in predicting individuals’ pathways through post-compulsory education and into employment. However, in general, it is difficult to identify individual characteristics at age 14-16 that could be used to strongly predict those who are more likely to experience particularly poor labour market outcomes at age 25, especially those who end up NEET.
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