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Change of occupation after training – 18 to 24-year old’s with dual vocational education and training in working life

For most trainees, employment in the occupation in which they have trained is a goal worth striving for. Yet not everyone succeeds in achieving this. The 2011/2012 Youth Employee Survey conducted by BIBB and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) reveals the proportion of young employees not working in the occupation in which they have trained and highlights the factors determining a change of occupation.

Changes of occupation after completion of training – differentiated consideration is required

Changes in occupation are not uniformly defined, and their consequences cannot be evaluated across the board as negative or positive. When changes in occupation are mentioned, it is mostly unclear as to whether reference is being made to a switch into an activity which is related to the training occupation (partial occupational change) or to a move to an occupation which is no longer connected with the occupation in which training took place (complete occupational change). This terminological differentiation is significant to the extent that the objective of dual vocational education and training in Germany is to “provide young people entering the world of work with full employability skills across a broadly based area of activity” (BIBB 2014, p. 7). Management and specialist functions achieved via upgrading training may also still be related to initial training. This implies that skills and competences acquired can also be transferred to other fields of employment, something which increases occupational mobility at the same time. WINKELMANN (2006) views these as two essential factors for evaluating the benefit of vocational education and training in a world of work that is undergoing rapid change. The BIBB/BAuA Survey of young workers under the age of 25 (cf. box) was conducted at the turn of the year in 2011/2012 and recorded changes of occupation in an appropriately differentiated manner. Respondents were asked: “If you compare your current job as a <...> with your training as a <...>, would you say that the activity is in line with the activity for which such training usually provides preparation, that the activity is related to this training or that the activity no longer has anything to do with this training?”.

Changes of occupation after completion of training – differentiated consideration is required

Changes in occupation are not uniformly defined, and their consequences cannot be evaluated across the board as negative or positive. When changes in occupation are mentioned, it is mostly unclear as to whether reference is being made to a switch into an activity which is related to the training occupation (partial occupational change) or to a move to an occupation which is no longer connected with the occupation in which training took place (complete occupational change). This terminological differentiation is significant to the extent that the objective of dual vocational education and training in Germany is to “provide young people entering the world of work with full employability skills across a broadly based area of activity” (BIBB 2014, p. 7). Management and specialist functions achieved via upgrading training may also still be related to initial training. This implies that skills and competences acquired can also be transferred to other fields of employment, something which increases occupational mobility at the same time. WINKELMANN (2006) views these as two essential factors for evaluating the benefit of vocational education and training in a world of work that is undergoing rapid change. The BIBB/BAuA Survey of young workers under the age of 25 (cf. box) was conducted at the turn of the year in 2011/2012 and recorded changes of occupation in an appropriately differentiated manner. Respondents were asked: “If you compare your current job as a <...> with your training as a <...>, would you say that the activity is in line with the activity for which such training usually provides preparation, that the activity is related to this training or that the activity no longer has anything to do with this training?”.

2011/2012 BIBB/BAuA Youth Employee Survey

The 2011/2012 BIBB/BAuA Youth Employee Survey was a telephone-based study of 3,214 young employees aged between 15 and 24 with a minimum period of work or training of 10 hours per week (cf. SCHMIEDERER 2014). Interviews were conducted between October 2011 and March 2012 by TNS Infratest within the scope of the 2012 BIBB/BAuA Employee Survey. 2,624 young workers and trainers were added to the 590 young adults included in the main survey. The questions asked were largely the same as in the main survey.

The following analysis relates to 740 employees aged between 18 and 24 who have completed dual vocational education and training. On average, training was commenced in 2007 and concluded in 2010 (36 % in 2011 or later, 23 % in 2010, 20 % in 2009 and 21 % in 2008 or earlier). Dual training occupations were coded by BIBB in accordance with the 1992 Federal Statistical Office Classification of Occupations. 23 of the 25 most popular occupations are also amongst the 25 most popular occupations in the Vocational Education and Training Statistics*

* For the purpose of validation of the distribution of occupations, the total database population from the VET statistics for the year 2008 was used, i. e. young people most of whom had begun training in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

How often does a change of occupation after completion of training takes place and who changes occupation?

In 2012, more than half (52 %) of employees aged 18-24 who had completed dual VET were working in the occupation in which they had trained. A further 32 percent were working in an occupation that was at least related to their training (partial occupational change). This high proportion provides an initial indication of the flexible deployment within the employment system of those who have completed company-based VET. 16 percent were in a job that was no longer related to the occupation in which they had trained (cf. Table). After having made a complete occupational change of this kind, 65 percent of young workers were able to use only a small part or none at all of their original training. 24 percent were able to make use of some of the things they had learned, whilst only 12 percent were able to utilise a lot or quite a lot of their initial vocational education and training. Of those exercising a related occupation, around half (56 %) were able to deploy a lot or quite a lot of the knowledge they had learned, whereas 32 percent responded that they could use “some”.1

As the Table shows, complete occupational change becomes more likely as time elapses since conclusion of training. In 2012, shortly after the end of their training, only around four percent were working outside the occupation in which they had trained. This is also connected with the possibility of being offered permanent employment by the company providing training. Of those who completed training in 2011 and 2010, as many as twelve percent and 19 percent respectively were recorded as having made a complete occupational change. The highest proportions of changes of occupation (24 %) were exhibited by those with a lower secondary school leaving certificate. In the case of young people with a higher qualification, the rate of change was only 13 percent. Training in the craft trades sector is more likely to lead to a change of occupation than training in industry (21 % as opposed to 11 %). The proportion of occupational change made by workers who trained in small companies (20 %) was also relatively higher. The sort of requirements-based training that frequently takes place in the craft trades and at small companies thus influences both chances of being offered permanent employment after training and the rate of occupational change. Secondary service sector occupations are associated with high rates of employment growth and are less likely (12 %) to see occupational change than primary service sector occupations (14 %) or manufacturing occupations (19 %), a typically male domain in which employment numbers are falling.2 This also explains why in overall terms men are more likely than women to make a complete change of the occupation in which they have trained (18 % as opposed to 13 %).

The consequences of a change of occupation crucially depend upon whether the change took place voluntarily (e. g. because of a higher income in the new occupation or different occupational interests) or involuntarily (e. g. due to the fact that poor employment opportunities mean that people cannot find a job in the occupation in which they have trained). The 2006 BIBB/BAuA Employee Survey provides empirical evidence that only involuntary changes of occupation are associated with significant falls in income (cf. HALL 2010).

Table: Frequency of a change of occupation after completion of training by relevant charcteristics (row percentages)

Note: Young employees aged 18 to 24 who have completed dual VET
Source: BIBB/BAuA-Youth Employee Survey 2011/2012

Connection between occupation learned and occupation exercised

Changes of occupation always need to be viewed in a differentiated way. Dichotomous division into occupation changers and non-changers is not a productive approach to adopt. The analyses show that only around one in eight workers aged between 18 and 24 who have completed VET have completely changed the occupation in which they trained, whereas, according to the subjective assessment of the young workers surveyed, about one in three work in a job that is related to the occupation in which they trained (partial occupational change). As an analysis of all workers who have completed VET shows, this does not, on average, involve any falls in income compared to those who remain within the occupation in which they have trained. The occupational flexibility set out in the training regulations thus also seems to be in place.

  • 1 The question asked was: “How much of the occupational knowledge and skills which you acquired in your training are you now able to use in your current job of <...>?”
  • 2 Secondary service sector occupations include technical occupations, IT occupations, bank and insurance clerks, tax clerks, qualified dental employees and medical assistants. Primary service sector occupations include jobs that mainly involve retail and office activities as well as general services such as cleaning, catering, warehousing and transportation.

Literature

BIBB (Ed.): Ausbildungsordnungen und wie sie entstehen [Training regulations and how they are developed]. Bonn 2014

HALL, A.: Wechsel des erlernten Berufs. Theoretische Relevanz, Messprobleme und Einkommenseffekte [Switching from the occupation in which training has taken place. Theoretical relevance, measurement problems and income effects]. In: Zeitschrift für Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik [Journal of Vocational and Business Education] 2010, Supplement 24, pp. 157-173

SCHMIEDERER, S.: BIBB/BAuA-Jugenderwerbstätigenbefragung 2011/2012 [2011/2012 BIBB/BauA Employee Survey]. suf_0.1; Research Data Centre at BIBB (Ed.; data access). Bonn 2014 – doi: 10.7803/301.12.2.1.10

WINKELMANN, R.: Qualifikationsspezifische Beschäftigungsperspektiven und berufliche Flexibilität [Qualification-specific employment prospects and occupational flexibility]. In: FRICK, A.; WIRZ, A. (Eds.): Berufsbildungsökonomie: Stand und offene Fragen [VET economy – status and unresolved issues]. Bern 2006, pp. 75-106

 

ANJA HALL
Dr., Research associate in the “Qualifications, Occupational Integration and Employment” Section at BIBB

Translation from the German original (published in BWP 2/2015): Martin Stuart Kelsey, Global Sprachteam Berlin