Weighing career prospects pays off for vocational education students

Vocational education students who carefully weighed the associated career prospects when choosing a degree programme were more likely to succeed on the labour market. They tend to find work more frequently, earn a higher hourly wage, are more likely to find higher-level work in their academic field, and they have greater job satisfaction. These were the results of a study conducted by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University, which were described in the report 'How career information influences programme selection among vocational education students' published today.

Career prospects
As part of a selection experiment, the Maastricht researchers asked young people to choose between two programmes that differ in terms of the respondents’ expectations and competences and the career prospects after graduation. The analyses revealed that anticipated career prospects play an important role in choosing a degree programme. The analyses also suggest that prospective students are willing to switch from a programme that aligns well with their academic interests to one that does not aligns as well with their interests if the career prospects are better. Finally, they revealed that a 'poor' match (in terms of interests or career opportunities) has a bigger effect on not choosing a programme than a 'good' match has on choosing a programme.

Didier Fouarge
prof. dr. Didier Fouarge

Career orientation activities
Not all young people choose a degree programme based on a rational assessment of the associated career prospects. “Expectations regarding personal preferences, competences, and a match with the curricula also play an important role. These expectations are determined to some extent by the social context (influence of parents and friends) and previous experiences”, says Professor Didier Fouarge, head of the research project. Nevertheless, the literature reveals that young people do indeed respond to information about career prospects and that this information influences the decision to enrol in a degree programme.

Fouarge: “Information about career prospects should become a standard part of the career orientation activities young people receive, and prospective students should be offered help in processing this information.”

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