Occupational mobility during the transition from VET apprenticeships to the labour market - causes and consequences

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The study explores the causes and salary consequences of occupational mobility at the transition from vocational training to work using the TREE dataset.

The transition from basic vocational training to the labour market is a potentially critical stage in determining whether and to what extent those completing apprenticeships are successful in applying what they have learned to the labour market. In order to assess the functionality of the combined school/work-based VET programmes, it is important to know what type of people leave the occupations for which they have trained, why and what the consequences of this are. At present, little is known about this subject matter as far as Switzerland is concerned. By considering those who have completed apprenticeships approximately one year on, this project is intended to contribute to providing insight into career change processes and transitional difficulties encountered when moving on to a second career. Particular importance is attached to the issues of which occupations and occupational fields are more difficult to enter successfully, which are more likely to result in a career change and whether there are differences here between VET graduates who completed an entirely school-based VET programme (i.e. full-time schooling, no VET apprenticeship) and those who completed a combined school/work-based VET programme (i.e. part-time school and part-time paid apprenticeship). As possible determining factors in the transition process, trade characteristics (e.g. level of qualifications required to be accepted on to the apprenticeship) and personal characteristics such as gender, migrant background or educational performance are examined.

A further focus lies on exploring the impact on salary of a career change for those completing apprenticeships. In theory, changing careers can have both positive and negative effects on salary: on the one hand, based on labour market economics search and matching theories, one can presume that some career changes have been made precisely because a new area of employment offered the young people concerned better employment, career and salary prospects (positive impact on salary). On the other hand, a career change may also be in response to a lack of job opportunities in the occupation for which people have trained. This raises the issue of job specificity and the transferability of skills and capabilities imparted by vocational training to other occupations or occupational fields. The human capital theory (Becker 1962) implies that changing career after completing vocational training is accompanied by negative effects on salary, as some of what has been learned cannot be applied on the labour market. The level of salary loss to be expected as a result of making a career change should therefore be estimated using econometric methods which allow the endogeneity of career changes to be considered.

The analysis is based on the TREE (TRansition from Education to Employment) dataset. These data were generated from annual surveys of participants in the Swiss PISA 2000 study (see and contain comprehensive information on the socio-economic background, educational progress and first jobs of the young people surveyed. Approximately 1800 professionals are provided in the analysis.


Quantitative analysis of secondary data, econometric methods such as multinomial logit, OLS and methods for correcting endogeneity such as IV and treatment regression.

1.2.2007 to 31.5.2009
Project manager: 

Universitäten Zürich und Bern, Leading House on the Economics of Education, Firm Behaviour and Training Policies“