BIBB REPORT 4/2014
Career choice of young women and men – chances of making the transition to company-based training and occupational prestige achieved
Ursula Beicht | Günter Walden
Although they have better school leaving qualifications on average, young women experience greater difficulties than young men in searching for a company-based training place. However, young women concentrate on a very narrow spectrum of occupations when making their career choice decisions. By way of contrast, the career choice spectrum of young men is considerably wider. The question as to whether the smaller chances of success of young women at the transition to company-based training are attributable to the very different occupational preferences of men and women is therefore of particular significance and is investigated in the present report on the basis of the 2012 Federal Employment Agency (BA) and Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) Applicant Survey.
Training and work – differences in career choice between women and men
In Germany, occupational activities and the labour market continue to be shaped in strong gender-specific terms. To this extent, the characteristic 1970’s term “gender-specific labour market” (BECK-GERNSHEIM 1976) continues to be fully valid (cf. HAUSMANN / KLEINERT 2014). Both the training occupations preferred by men and women and the employment occupations they exercise differ considerably. In the case of women, commercial and service sector occupations predominate, whereas business and technical occupations are a domain for men. In the dual system of vocational education and training, for example, the most popular occupation amongst men in 2012 was motor vehicle mechatronics technician. The proportion of young women training in this occupation was a mere 3.1 percent (cf. FEDERAL STATISTICAL OFFICE 2013).Women are traditionally significantly less well represented in dual VET than men. In 2012, the proportion of women was 39.0 percent. Compared to the situation at the beginning of the 1990’s (1992: 40.8 percent), this even represents a slight fall (cf. GERICKE /LISSEK 2014, p. 107). By way of contrast, women are considerably more strongly represented than men in the fully qualifying school-based system of vocational education and training. In later working life, men continue to achieve more highly respected and better paid positions on average than women (cf. PROJECT GROUP GIB 2010).
With regard to the reasons why there are gender-specific differences in training and occupations, reference needs to be made to the varieties in career choice between men and women. The relevant literature on career choice shows that boys and girls have very different occupational orientations at the transition from school to working life which have emerged from the preceding gender-specific socialisation process. The much weaker tendency on the part of girls to take up a technical occupation is particularly conspicuous: “The more technical the training, the less likely it is that it will be chosen by girls” (NISSEN /KEDDI / PFEIL 2003, p. 39). ZYBELL (2005) believes that the reason for this is that girls develop different vocational orientations to boys in gender-specific occupational profiles within the scope of the socialisation process. Examples of the main characteristics ascribed to the stereotype of “femininity” by society are relationship orientation, unobtrusiveness, attractiveness and body awareness (cf. ZYBELL 2005, p. 31). This means that women are less likely to strive to enter technical occupations. These tend to be aligned towards objects and are not associated with “feminine” occupational activity.
Alongside the contents of occupations which in societal terms are assigned differing affinities to male and female self-concepts, the literature also indicates that, unlike men, young women need to or wish to take account of their work-life balance as well as considering their interests and predispositions for an occupation (cf. KRÜGER 2001; p. 532; ZYBELL 2005, p. 33). To this extent, they select occupations which they believe to be more suitable for striking a balance with later family demands.
The lower level of female representation in the dual system of vocational education and training and women’s disproportionally high participation in school-based VET may largely be viewed as the result of the different occupational spectrum offered in each of the vocational training subsystems. Men display a higher degree of affinity with the dual system because of the high significance of private sector technical occupations. Women, on the other hand, are strongly drawn to the school-based occupation system due to the fact that it mainly focuses on the service sector and healthcare occupations they favour. Nevertheless, studies on the transition to vocational education and training tell us that women who are expressly seeking to enter training in the dual system also have significantly lower chances of progression than men (cf. BEICHT / FRIEDRICH / ULRICH 2008). One significant reason for this could be the fact that demand for company-based training by men is directed towards a broad spectrum of occupations, whereas women concentrate on a much smaller number of professions. In these occupations, women compete extremely fiercely amongst themselves for the training places that are available, i.e. a relatively large number of applicants is attempting to secure a comparatively small number of positions. The “labour queue approach” (THUROW 1975) dictates that, during the process of filling company-based vacancies, applicants are ranked according to their learning and performance ability. The longer the labour queue happens to be, the less likely it is that a first-rank placement will be achieved. This means that the prospects of actually obtaining a training place are also lower. This means that the chances of progression in the dual occupations favoured by women could be less favourable than in the occupations where there is a strong demand from men.
Notwithstanding this, company recruitment criteria could also be part of the reason for the lower chances of women in the dual VET system. It may be the case that companies have gender-specific preferences when recruiting trainees, something which could in turn lead to a disadvantage for women. The statistical discrimination model, which is based on the signalling approach of SPENCE (1973), offers a possible explanation. During the staff recruitment process, employers orient themselves to the alignment of persons to groups and to mean group values with regard to productivity (cf. e.g. ACHATZ 2005, p. 269; HALL 2011, p. 75). It would, therefore, be conceivable that human resources managers at companies believe women in male-dominated occupations to be less effective because they assume that such women will face greater demands from family activity (cf. NISSEN / KEDDI / PFEIL 2003, p. 122). IMDORF also points out that, alongside personal prejudices on the part of the company owner, an evaluation of possible effects on the communication structures within the company or on the external image vis-à-vis customers and suppliers may also be at play (cf. IMDORF 2005, p. 133 ff.; IMDORF 2011).
The aim of this report is to undertake a more detailed investigation of the differences in opportunity between men and women at the transition to company-based training. The main focus will be on the question of whether the worse chances of progression for women are caused by the gender-specific different career choice decisions.
Status of research on the transition to company-based training
Findings are available from a multitude of studies on the transition to vocational training and especially on the question of which factors exert a beneficial or inhibiting effect in this regard (c.f. e.g. BEICHT / FRIEDRICH / ULRICH 2008; BEICHT / WALDEN 2014; FRIEDRICH 2009; REIßIG / GAUPP / LEX 2008). EBERHARD (2012) developed a comprehensive resource theory approach to explain the transitional chances of training place applicants. This states that young people interested in entering training have different resources at their disposal, and these increase or reduce the probability of progression to dual vocational education and training. Based on the concept of capital according to BOURDIEU (1983), a differentiation is drawn between social, personal and institutional capital. Personal capital is primarily deemed to include young people’s formal school qualifications (school leaving certificates, school marks), their application and search behaviour and their personal characteristics (e.g. gender, migrant background). Social capital comprises the resources imparted to the young people via their parents and social environment. The situation on the training market in the region of residence of the young people constitutes institutional capital and plays a role in dual vocational education and training in particular.
With regard to the transition to company-based training, previous investigations mainly indicate the significance of the following factors. The school leaving qualification achieved and school leaving certificate marks are of central importance. All relevant studies indicate that the better these formal school qualifications are, the greater is the chance of a successful search for a company-based training place (c.f. e.g. BEICHT / FRIEDRICH / ULRICH 2008; EBERHARD 2012; FRIEDRICH 2009). The following factors relating to personal capital have also been revealed as significant. A migrant background, higher age of the young people and health impairments all lessen the chances of making the transition to company-based training (e.g. EBERHARD 2012). By way of contrast, concentration of the search for training in dual occupations, written applications in more than one occupation and completion of company-based introductory training exert a positive effect on chances of progression (c.f. e.g. B. BEICHT / WALDEN 2012).
As far as social capital is concerned, influences can particularly be demonstrated in respect of education of parents. Fathers and mothers are in a significantly better position to provide their children with effective support in the search for company-based training if they themselves are in possession of a vocational qualification than if they have not undergone vocational education and training (cf. BEICHT / WALDEN 2014).
With regard to institutional capital, the general competition situation on the regional training places market is an important factor. The more favourable the ratio between the total number of places on offer and the number of young people in a region interested in training, the better the chances will be for the young people who live there to progress to company-based training (cf. e.g. BEICHT / WALDEN 2012; EBERHARD 2012). In addition to this, the specific market situation in the occupations for which young people have applied is of great significance. The effects revealed here are similar to those relating to the general situation on the regional training places market (cf. BEICHT / WALDEN 2012; EBERHARD 2012).
Previous studies have identified ever declining chances for women of making the transition to company-based training. This also applies when the different relevant variables stated are taken into consideration at the same time. Only when account is taken in the analysis of what were the main occupational focuses of men and women in the training search is any indication of these chance disadvantages suggested (cf. BEICHT / WALDEN 2012). The implication here is that the reasons for the worse opportunities for women are their narrower career choice spectrum and their preference for service sector occupations. These reasons seem to correlate with the statement that “women who are interested in a technical occupation still need to fight against reservations on the part of the companies” (ibid., p. 507). This report will use current data to undertake a more detailed investigation into the connection between the career choice decisions during the search for training and the chances of making the transition. A further aim is to look into the question of the extent to which the dual occupations to which women and men actually progress differ in terms of their prestige and whether any disadvantages for women can be identified in this regard before the end of training.
Investigation group – registered training place applicants
Analyses take place on the basis of the 2012 BA/BIBB Applicant Survey (› Information box, p. 4). The statistical population of this survey comprises the 561,783 young people who in the placement year 2012 used the advisory and placement services offered by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) in their search for a company-based training place and who were officially registered as training place applicants. According to the assessment of the BA or of the employment agencies or job centres, these young people were in possession of the necessary apprenticeship entrance maturity and vocational aptitude for the respective dual vocational education and training they were seeking to enter.
Registered applicants are not identical with the demand side of the Training Market Figures as of the cut-off date of 30 September (› Figure 1). Official demand only takes those young people into account who have newly concluded a contract for dual training and applicants registered with the BA who are officially deemed to be unplaced (“classical” definition of demand) or young people for whom placement endeavours are continuing (“extended” definition of demand). Not included are applicants who no longer wish to be placed or whose destination is unknown.1 As Figure 1 shows, the group of persons making up registered applicants in the placement year 2012 comprises 287,049 persons who have commenced dual vocational education and training and 274,734 persons who have progressed to alternative destinations such as a job, higher education study or a partially qualifying training course, who have remained unplaced or whose destination is not known to the BA.
Registration with the BA or with the employment agencies or job centres is voluntary, and many young people choose not to take advantage of institutional support in their training search. According to the BIBB survey as of 30 September, a total of 551,259 training contracts were newly concluded in the 2012 placement year. This means that 264,210 young people succeeded in concluding a contract for dual training without using the services of the employment agencies or job centres. These young people are not included in the group of persons making up registered applicants. Training place applicants registered with the BA thus accounted for a proportion of 68 percent of all the 825,993 young people interested in dual training, an overall figure which can be identified from the official data sources stated.
As well as offering relatively detailed information on the school qualifications and search and applicant behaviour of young people, one particular advantage of the BA/BIBB Applicant Survey is that it contains precise data on the training occupations taken into consideration in the training search. The young people surveyed were each asked to state all the individual occupations that they had considered when making their applications. The survey also recorded whether they actually progressed to dual vocational education and training in the placement year or during the post-placement phase and, if so, in which occupation. This makes it possible to investigate which influence is exerted by various career choice decisions on the probability of a successful search for a company-based training place. Of the total of around 4,100 survey cases that made up the 2012 BA/BIBB Applicant Survey, only the 3,102 cases in which respondents precisely stated the occupations taken into account within the search and application process could be used to inform the evaluations. The initial aim below is to show to which occupations and occupational groups the interest of female and male applicants is directed and how the probability of progression to company-based training varies in accordance with occupational preferences.
2012 BA/BIBB Applicant Survey
The 2012 BA/BIBB Applicant Survey was a written postal representative survey of young people and young adults who were registered as training place applicants with the employment agencies and job centres in their capacity as joint providers in the 2012 placement year (1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012). The survey was conducted by BIBB in conjunction with the Federal Employment Agency (BA). In order to conduct the survey, the BA selected a sample of all applicants whose place of residence was in Germany. 13,200 randomly chosen persons received the questionnaire by post (gross sample). At the conclusion of the survey phase, which ran from the start of December 2012 until mid-February 2013, around 4,100 questionnaires largely completed and capable of evaluation were available (net sample). The response rate was thus 31 percent. The survey data was weighted via a target-actual adjustment in accordance with the characteristics of region of residence, gender and officially registered destination of the applicants and extrapolated to the statistical population of applicants residing in Germany.
Occupational preferences of female and male applicants
The differences in the occupational interests of female and male training applicants can be illustrated by taking the 25 occupations with the most newly concluded training contracts in 2012 as an example. Almost all of these occupations are overwhelmingly aspired to either by young women or by young men (› Figure 2, right hand side). There is virtually exclusive female interest in the occupations medical assistant, qualified dental employee, hairdresser and salesperson specialising in foodstuffs. By way of contrast, the occupations motor vehicle mechatronics technician, industrial mechanic, electronics technician, information technology specialist, plant mechanic for sanitary, heating and air conditioning systems, mechatronics fitter, milling machine operator and metalworker almost always attract interest from males only. Although the occupations management assistant for retail services, sales assistant for retail services, office management clerk and industrial clerk are favoured by large numbers of women, they are also relatively likely to be considered by men. It is rare to find almost equal interest in any given occupation by both women and men. In the case of the most popular occupations considered here, this applies only to the occupations of wholesale and foreign trade clerk and bank clerk.
The training market situation, i.e. the ratio of company-based training places on offer compared to the number of young people interested in training2, is very different in the 25 occupations (› Figure 2, left hand side). The most favourable market conditions for applicants are to be found in the occupation of salesperson specialising in foodstuffs, for which the supply of places even exceeds the number of those interested. The situation is also relatively good in the occupations of wholesale and foreign trade clerk, qualified dental employee, electronics technician, hotel specialist, plant mechanic for sanitary, heating and air conditioning systems, mechatronics fitter and tax clerk, all of which offer training provision for at least 80 percent of the corresponding young people interested in training.
By way of contrast, the worst ratio is in the occupation of office management clerk, where company-based training places are only available for half of the interested parties. The market situation is also comparatively unfavourable in the occupations of management assistant for retail services, sales assistant for retail services, medical assistant, joiner and painter and varnisher, which only have company-based training provision for less than 60 percent of the young people interested. Because of the differing competition situation in the individual occupations, the expectation is that young peoples’ chances of progression will depend to a relatively strong degree on their respective career choice decisions in the search for training. With regard to the 25 occupations with the most newly concluded contracts, we can identify good and bad market conditions both in the individual occupations favoured by women and in some of the occupations preferred by men.
In their training search, 85 percent of female applicants and 86 percent of male applicants considered at least one of the 25 occupations with the most newly concluded training contracts. In overall terms, the young people surveyed stated up to ten different occupations included in their training search. On average, young women were interested in a slightly higher number of occupations than young men (3.0 as opposed to 2.8).
The aim now is to consider in which occupational areas the interest of female and male applicants is principally directed. For this purpose, all occupations considered by the young people have been allocated to occupational areas in accordance with the 2010 BA Classification of Occupations. This has enabled us to identify whether there was a predominant interest on the part of the individual applicants in one of these occupational area. An occupational area is deemed to have been favoured if more than half of the occupations included in the training search of one person can be aligned to this area. This permitted a clear focus of occupational interest to be determined for almost two thirds of applicants.
Young women are shown to be most likely to favour occupations which relate to the fields of company organisation, accountancy, law and administration. A quarter are mainly attempting to enter this occupational area (› Figure 3). The two areas of commercial services, trading and sale of goods, distribution, hotel and tourism and Health, social services, teaching and education are also very popular amongst women, being preferred by 18 percent and 13 percent of female applicants respectively. Young women are only rarely likely to display a particular interest in all other occupational areas.
The most popular area by some distance amongst young men is raw materials, production and manufacturing (metalworking, engineering, mechatronics and electrical occupations). Significantly more than one quarter mainly consider such occupations. However, young men are also relatively likely to show a marked interest in the areas of company organisation, accountancy, law and administration and commercial services, trading and sale of goods, distribution, hotel and tourism, both areas that are strongly favoured by women.
Progression of young women and men to company-based training
Table 1 shows the strength of variance of the progression rate to company-based training 3 by preferred main occupational focus. Amongst young women, the lowest success rate is shown by those who are primarily interested in the occupational area of commercial services, trading and sale of goods, distribution, hotel and tourism. Only 31 percent actually succeed in entering training in their preferred area. 4 percent progress to a different occupational area, and the remaining 65 percent do not obtain a company-based training place. Female applicants who mainly consider occupations relating to company organisation, accountancy, law and administration or to health, social services, teaching and education are somewhat more successful. 37 percent and 38 percent respectively achieve a training place in their preferred area.
The highest progression rate is, however, achieved by the small number of women mainly seeking training in occupations in raw materials, production and manufacturing (metalworking, engineering, mechatronics and electrical occupations). 61 percent of these were able to commence relevant training. By way of contrast, the women – also small in number – who prefer occupations in the area of raw materials, production and manufacturing (glass, plastics, wood, printing, textiles, food occupations) in their training search fare far less well. Only one third actually progress to such an occupation, although 11 percent find a company-based training place in another area.
Young men are least successful, and considerably less successful than young women, when their occupational interest is concentrated in the area of commercial services, trading and sale of goods, distribution, hotel and tourism. Only 22 percent obtain a corresponding training place. Prospects of success are just as low for applicants who favour training in the occupational area of science, geography and information technology. Young men also tend to be unlikely to make a successful transition into company organisation, accountancy, law and administration, if this is their preferred area. Only 29 percent of such applicants succeed, although 11 percent commence vocational education and training in another occupational area. The most promising training search is enjoyed by the relatively small number of applicants who focus on occupations within the field of transport, logistics, protection and security. 58 percent of applicants proceed to enter such training. The success rate amongst those who are mainly interested in occupations in the area of raw materials, production and manufacturing (metalworking, engineering, mechatronics and electrical occupations) is almost as high at 57 percent. This is the occupational area most strongly favoured by young men.
We may therefore state that progression rates into company-based training for young women and men vary considerably depending on the main occupational focus selected in the search for a training place. Nevertheless, young men’s prospects of success in their preferred areas are mostly significantly better than the chances of young women in their own favoured fields. The overall result of this is that female applicants are significantly less likely to make the transition to company-based training than their male counterparts, the relevant figures being 40 percent and 46 percent respectively. This is despite the fact that women have higher school leaving qualifications on average (› Table 2).
These poorer progression rates affect young women at all levels of school leaving qualification. The greatest difference occurs in respect of female applicants who have not achieved any qualification higher than the lower secondary school leaving certificate. The progression rate for this group is eleven percentage points below the comparable cohort of young men. In the case of possession of an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate or a higher education entrance qualification, the difference in progression rates between male and female applicants is four and five percentage points respectively.
Influences of career choice on chances of progression
The results presented thus far do not permit us to say with certainty whether gender-specific different career choice decisions are actually the main reason for the worse opportunities for young women to make the transition to company-based training. This issue can only be clarified via multivariate analyses which accord due consideration to all other cause variables at the same time. For this reason, binary logistic regression models have been calculated. Alongside characteristics of career choice, these include as independent variables all the factors which exert a positive or negative effect on the chances of progression to company-based training according to the resources theory explanatory model of EBERHARD (2012) (see above). In this way, the autonomous effects of each characteristic can be determined due to the fact that all other relevant factors are controlled. The dependent variable used in the regression models has the two categories of “progressed to company-based training” and “did not progress to company-based training”.
The first stage of the analysis involves the initial calculation of a “basic model”, in which no occupationally related characteristics are yet included (› Table 3, Model 1).4 The following effects are revealed.
- As far as the school qualifications of the young people are concerned, an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate considerably increases progression as opposed to when no qualification higher than a lower secondary school leaving certificate has been achieved. This effect is even stronger in the case of possession of a higher education entrance qualification. Good school marks in mathematics and German also have a positive effect.
- With regard to the search and application process, written applications in more than one occupation are revealed to be favourable, and participation in company-based introductory training doubles the chances of progression. By way of contrast, considerable negative effects are exerted if applicants consider other non-dual occupations, if they have already unsuccessfully tried to obtain a training place in previous years, if they exhibit health limitations or if they would actually prefer something other than company-based training..
- Strong effects are also caused by the general competition situation on the regional training market5. The larger the supply of company-based training in relation to the number of young people in a region interested in training, the better the transitional chances are of the applicants who live there.
- Personal characteristics are highly relevant too. Young people from a migrant background are considerably less likely to find a company-based training place than those not from a migrant background, and the prospects of applicants who are already aged over 20 are significantly lower than those of young applicants.
If these influences are controlled, the chances of young women to progress to company-based training are significantly worse than those of young men.
The second stage of the analysis also takes into account the extent to which the demands level of the occupations forming a possible object of application, i.e. of the occupations which the young people have considered in their training search, correspond to the school leaving qualification they have achieved. For this purpose, a relevant variable has been formed as follows. Firstly, all dual training occupations were divided into four reference levels on the basis of the occupationally specific distributions of trainees by school leaving qualifications.6 These reference levels were aligned to the occupations included by the applicants surveyed in their search and application process. Because the young people concerned generally named more than one occupation that could form the object of an application, an average was calculated per person via the reference levels of the different occupations. This average demands level of the occupations that could form the object of an application were then related to the individual school leaving qualification.
If the variable formed in this manner is included in the regression model (› Table 3, Model 2), a negative effect is shown in line with expectations if the demands level of the preferred occupations is too high for the individual school leaving qualification. By the same token, an advantage occurs if young people present a better school leaving qualification than is expected in the occupations they favour. Nevertheless, significantly lower chances of transition continue to be shown for young women. This means that women do not aspire to occupations that are too demanding, and their chance disadvantages can certainly not be explained in this way.
The third stage of the analysis includes the competition situation in the occupations forming a possible object application by the young people. A relevant variable also needed to be created in this regard, and this took place in the following way. Firstly, the relation of company-based training provision to young people interested in training was determined for each dual training occupation.7 This occupationally specific indicator was aligned to the occupations forming a possible object of application by the young people surveyed. An average calculation was then conducted per person with regard to the indicator values of the various occupations forming a possible object of application.
The inclusion of these variables in the regression model (›Table 3, Model 3) makes it clear that the specific competition situation in the occupations forming a possible object of application has a considerable effect on the applicants’ chances of progression. No significant chance disadvantages are any longer revealed for young women.8 We can therefore assume that, viewed in overall terms, the competition situation in the occupations to which women aspire is significantly more difficult than in the occupations which are in demand from men and that this largely explains the worse prospects women have of progressing to company-based training.9
Because the chance disadvantages of young women correlate with their specific occupational wishes, the question arises as to whether different career choice decisions in the search for training could lead to an improvement. In order to obtain indications for this, a fourth stage of the analysis was carried out to calculate separate regression models for the female and male applicants which alongside the previous variables additionally included the nature of the occupations predominantly aspired to. A differentiation between two types of occupation was made on the basis of the 2010 BA Classification of Occupations. These were occupational areas 1–4, which tend to be private sector technical occupations preferred by men, and occupational areas 5–9, in which the service sector occupations strongly favoured by women are largely represented.
As the results make clear (› Table 3, Models 4a and 4b), the (small number of) women who are primarily interested in occupational areas 1–4 do not have any higher chances of transition than those women who concentrate their training search on occupational areas 5–9. The situation with regard to young men is different. In their case, a predominant interest in occupational areas 1–4 leads to significantly better prospects of obtaining a company-based training place. This indicates that young women are currently unlikely to be able to compensate for their chance disadvantages by including private sector technical occupations in their training search to a greater degree. It seems to be the case that, given the same conditions otherwise, women who aspire to occupations that tend to be untypical still need to expect greater reservations on the part of the companies.
Finally, the fifth stage of the analysis considers how a predominant interest in female-dominated or male-dominated occupations affects the chances of transition of women and men. The relevant classification of the occupations took place on the basis of the occupationally specific gender distribution of the trainees.10 In the case of a proportion of women of at least 90 percent, occupations were categorised as strongly female dominated. A proportion of men of at least 90 percent indicated a strongly male-dominated occupation.
This shows (› Table 3, Model 5a) that young women achieve considerably better chances of transition if they prefer female-dominated occupations than if they aspire to other occupations. By way of contrast, a marked interest in male-dominated occupations does not bring them any advantage, although chances are not significantly worse (› Model 5b). By the same token, young men enjoy particularly favourable prospects in their training search if they are seeking to enter training in a male-dominated occupation (cf. Model 5c). It was not possible to determine the nature of their chances if female-dominated occupations are favoured due to the fact that it is extremely rare for men to be interested in such occupations.11 In overall terms, therefore, the results imply that the most promising strategy for both women and men currently is to concentrate their training search on occupational areas which represent their respective “domains”.
Gender-specific differences in the prestige of occupations
The final aim is to investigate the question of whether there are differences in terms of socio-economic status or prestige 12 between the occupations to which young women and men progress in the event of a successful training search. On the one hand, it would be conceivable that the greater difficulties faced by young women at the transition to company-based training would lead to their being more likely also to accept lower status occupations in order to be able to commence training at all. On the other hand, it would also be possible that young women are generally more likely than young men to aspire to higher status occupations and are thus also more likely to enter training in such occupations.
In order to investigate this, two international indices are used. These present a measure of the socio-economic status or prestige of the individual occupations. The first of these is the International Socio-economic Index of Occupational Status (ISEI-08), which links income and education to map the socio-economic status of occupations (cf. GANZEBOOM 2010). The lowest value contained within this index, which is based on empirical surveys in 42 countries, is 12 (auxiliary agricultural worker). The highest value is 89 (judge). The other index used is the Standard International Occupational Prestige Scale (SIOPS-08), which provides prestige values. These have also been empirically determined. Values here range from 12 (street service worker) to 78 (university and higher education teachers, doctors).13 Both indices were aligned to the occupations forming a possible object of application and to the occupations to which applicants progressed.14 Because young people have generally stated more than one occupation forming a possible object of application, a average of the relevant index values was calculated per person.
The initial aim is to consider the prestige of occupations considered in the search and application process for all applicants. In overall average terms, higher values for young women than for young men are shown in this regard in both indices (› Table 4). The average ISEI-08 value of the occupations forming a possible object of application is 39.7 for female applicants and 35.1 for male applicants. The respective average figures for the SIOPS-08 values are 43.3 and 40.9. This is not due to the fact that women are more likely to have higher level school leaving qualifications, usually associated with a wish to enter a higher status occupation. Particularly those women who have achieved no qualification higher than the lower secondary school leaving certificate or who are in possession of the intermediate secondary school leaving certificate tend to aspire to occupations with a higher level of prestige than is the case with comparable men. By way of contrast, virtually no gender-specific difference in the status of the occupations forming a possible object of application can be identified in the case of a higher education entrance qualification.
There is very little difference in the average prestige of occupations forming a possible object of application between young women who have succeeded in progressing to company-based training and those who have not achieved this transition, and the overall difference with regard to all levels of school leaving qualification is also relatively small. The picture for young men is somewhat different. Particularly those applicants with a higher education entrance qualification who have progressed to company-based training have aspired to occupations with a lower status compared to applicants who have not entered such training. The difference between the average ISEI-08 values for both groups is more than five points (40.6 as opposed to 46.2).15 A similar less pronounced difference can also be identified in respect of male applicants with an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate.
If the prestige of the occupations forming a possible object of application and of the occupations to which applicants have progressed are compared for young women, virtually no deviations are identifiable (› Table 4). This means that female applicants at all school leaving qualification levels generally succeed in actually achieving the occupational prestige originally aspired to when making the transition to company-based training. This also applies to a great extent for young men who have progressed to company-based training. Only in the case of those with a higher education entrance qualification is the status of the occupations to which applicants have progressed noticeably below the prestige level of all occupations originally considered. The difference in the average ISEI-08 in this regard is just under three points (37.9 as opposed to 40.6).16
We can summarise by saying that, compared to young men, young women concentrate on higher prestige occupations in their search and application process. They also realise a correspondingly high occupational status as long as they progress to company-based training. For this reason, the occupations in which young women undergo company-based training are on average significantly higher in prestige than the occupations in which young men train.
The final aim is to investigate how far the prestige of occupations to which applicants progress actually correlates with the gender of the applicants and the extent to which other factors, such as school qualifications, personal characteristics and the regional training market situation, play a role. Two multiple linear regression models have been calculated for this purpose. These enable the autonomous influence of the individual characteristics to be determined, since all other respective factors are controlled. The ISEI-08 index values and the SIOPS-08 index values of the occupation to which applicants progress for the dependent variable.
As expected, both models (› Table 5, Models 6a and 6b) show that a considerable effect is exerted by the school leaving qualification of the applicants. The higher the level of the school leaving qualification, the higher is the prestige of the occupations to which applicants progress in company-based training. Good or very good marks in mathematics also lead to commencement of training in higher status occupations. Marks achieved in German are of less relevance in this regard. The age of applicants and migrant status do not have any significant impact on the prestige of the occupation to which applicants progress. The regional training market situation does, however, seem to be significant. The results indicate that, if the market situation is favourable to them, young people are more likely to include higher status occupations in their search and application activities and then also have better chances of obtaining a training place in such an occupation. Taking all these effects into account, we can identify that in company-based training young women progress to occupations with a significantly higher level of prestige than young men.
Conclusion – worse transitional chances for women, but better occupational prestige
This report addressed the issue of whether there is a correlation between the lower chances of young women of progressing to company-based training and the different occupational preferences of young men and young women. The occupational wishes of women continue mainly to relate to service sector and commercial occupations, whereas private sector technical occupations still remain a domain of men. Nevertheless, the competition situation between the occupations in respect of the search for a company-based training place varies considerably. In popular service sector and commercial occupations, women compete fiercely amongst one another for training places and also often have to face a higher level of demand on the part of men. By way of contrast, there is comparatively low demand for many of the private sector technical occupations, and men face very little competition from women. These facts and circumstances mean that there is considerable deviation between occupations in respect of the chances of being able to progress to company-based training.
The analyses conducted show that the worse opportunities of progression by young women compared to young men can be explained by the fact that the competition situation is more difficult in occupations that are primarily of interest to females. Nevertheless, this does not permit the conclusion that women can improve their chances of obtaining a company-based training place by applying for occupations that are in less demand and mainly frequented by men. The chances of progression of those few women who concentrate on male-dominated occupations during their training search are in no way better than the chances of women who decide on other occupations. If, on the other hand, women have a preference for female-dominated occupations, their chances rise significantly. This means that for young women it is not necessarily a promising strategy to apply for occupations in which men are predominantly represented. By the same token, young men have particularly good chances of progression if they favour male-dominated occupations.
Do the specific career wishes of young women actually bring only disadvantages at the transition to training? A consideration of the socio-economic status or prestige of the occupations demonstrates that women aspire to higher status occupations than men, particularly if they have achieved no qualification higher than the lower secondary school leaving certificate or are in possession of an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate. To the extent that women succeed in making the transition to company-based training, they are on average also able to realise the desired occupational prestige, i.e. they do not usually progress to occupations that are lower in status than originally planned despite the greater difficulties they experience in the training search. For this reason, the occupations in which young women enter training are on average significantly more prestigious than the occupations in which young men undergo training. These differences can be identified both in the case of young people who achieved no qualification higher than the lower secondary school leaving certificate or are in possession of an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate and in the case of those who have a higher education entrance qualification. Although the occupational interests of young women mean that they have a higher risk of a more difficult and more protracted transition to training, they achieve higher status occupations than young men if they are successful. Nevertheless, account needs to be taken of the fact that wages and salaries of women are below those of men on average, even if other conditions are equal (cf. e.g. GARTNER / HINZ 2009; CORNELIßEN 2005).
In overall terms, the results of the analyses conducted make it clear once more that a world of work which continues to be characterised in a strongly gender specific way means that there are serious differences in training wishes between men and women. These differences are an essential reason for the lower chances of women to progress to company-based training. Women are also not able to improve their individual chances by switching to male-dominated occupations in which the competition situation is less marked. The reality is that reservations still seem to be harboured on the part of companies against women in “male occupations”. This means that an expansion of the narrow career choice spectrum of women, something which fundamentally needs to be pursued, could only improve their chances of progression if at the same time a higher degree of acceptance of women in occupations previously dominated by men is also developed within the companies.
For calculation procedures of the various indicators relating to ratios on the training market cf. Ulrich (2012).
- 2 Supply of company-based training places per occupation is made up of the respective number of newly concluded company-based training contracts (in accordance with the BIBB Survey as of 30.09.2012) and the number of vacant training places (in accordance with the 2012 Federal Employment Agency Training Market Statistics). The number of institutionally recorded persons interested in training was determined at the occupational level as follows. The occupationally specific difference between the total number of applicants and the number of applicants who had progressed to training was added to the number of newly concluded training contracts per occupation. A special evaluation of the number of applicants in the individual occupations and of the number of applicants who had progressed to the respective occupations in the 2012 placement year was provided by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) for this purpose. Consideration needs to be accorded to the fact that the statistical survey conducted by the BA includes only the primary occupation to which each applicant aspires.
- 3 Progression is deemed to have taken place if an applicant has commenced company-based training in the placement year or in the post-placement phase and remains there until the time of the survey. The 2012 BA/BIBB Survey did not record whether a training contract begun in the placement year may have been terminated in the meantime. Such cases therefore count as non-successful progressions.
- 4 Table 3 shows the effect coefficients because only significances are considered, and no comparison is undertaken of the strengths of the effects between different models. For this reason, a decision was taken not to show average marginal effects (AME).
- 5 The indicator used is the ratio between the supply of company-based places and those interested in training at the employment agency level.
- 6 The numbers of newly concluded training contracts per occupation differentiated by school leaving qualifications from the Vocational Education and Training Statistics as of 31.12.2011 are deployed (Federal Statistical Office 2012). The division of the occupations by proportion of trainees with high-level, medium-level and low-level school leaving qualifications into four segments (upper occupational segment, upper middle, lower middle and lower segment) took place on the basis of the 2008 German Education Report (Vocational Education and Training Reporting Authors’ Group 2008, p. 285).
- 7 For the method of calculation of the occupationally specific supply of company-based training places and for the number of young people interested in training per occupation see footnote 2.
- 8 This result on the basis of the new data deviates from the corresponding analysis carried out by Beicht/Walden (2012) on the basis of the 2010 BA/BIBB Applicant Survey. The latter showed that chances for women did not cease to be significantly lower until consideration was accorded to the main focus of occupational interest (service sector occupations as opposed to manufacturing or technical occupations) (cf. Beicht/Walden 2012, pp. 504 ff.).
- 9 Although this model indicates that the transitional chances of women are slightly lower than those of men, this no longer constitutes a statistically verified difference.
- 10 The numbers of newly concluded training contracts per occupation differentiated by gender from the Vocational Education and Training Statistics as of 31.12.2011 are deployed (Federal Statistical Office 2012).
- 11 In the sample of the 2012 BA/BIBB Applicant Survey, there were only three men who were mainly interested in female-dominated occupations.
- 12 The two terms “status” and “prestige” are used as synonyms below.
- 13 The ISEI-08 and SIOPS-08 indices relate to employment occupations. Each value has up to two decimal places, The values stated here are rounded.
- 14 Alignment took place on the basis of the ISCO-08 Occupational Classification. The tools used were as follows: Ganzeboom, Harry B.G.; Treiman, Donald J., “International Stratification and Mobility File: Conversion Tools.” Amsterdam: Department of Social Research Methodology, www.harryganzeboom.nl/ismf/index.htm (status: 16.09.2014).
- 15 Men in possession of a higher education entrance qualification who did not progress to company-based training were relatively unlikely (21 percent) to commence a course of higher education study or school-based vocational education and training. This, therefore, is not the main cause of non-progression. The destination of the vast majority is unemployment, an internship, voluntary service or a job (65 percent) or other educational activity (14 percent).
- 16 This result relates to the ISEI-08 Index.
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Volume 8, Issue 4, November 2014
ISSN Internet: 1866-7279
ISSN Print: 1865-0821
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