AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

How Graduates Make the School-To-Work Transition : A Person-in-Context Approach

by P.E. Baay

Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Year: 2015
Keywords: school-to-work transition; job-search; vocational education; personality; proactive; self-regulation; social networks; serendipity.
Record ID: 1242199
Full text PDF: http://dspace.library.uu.nl:8080/handle/1874/307573


After finishing school, some graduates quickly and easily find a suitable job, while others face periods of un(der)employment. The current dissertation investigated such individual differences in school-to-work transition success. Our focus was on Vocational Education and Training graduates (VET – mbo in Dutch), as they have a relatively vulnerable labor market position. Also, they constitute a large societal group, while relatively little research has focused on this group. Three findings stand out in this dissertation. First, job seekers can shape their job search process to a considerable degree. We found individual differences in the intensity with which graduates searched for employment, which related to self-control and proactive coping skills. We also found differences in the way individuals shaped the social context that could foster the job search process. For example, job seekers who had mobilized their social relations more intensively during their job search process reported better employment chances. Also, job seekers were able to increase the pay-off of engaging in networking events and job applications by proactively preparing for these social contexts. Proactive job seekers were also more likely to act upon and mitigate the potential negative impact of anticipated discrimination. Even ostensible random chance events that contributed to successful job searching were better regulated by some than others. Specifically, those who prepared better for their job search and -interview were more likely to experience and capitalize on chance events during these processes. The second finding is that some graduates have better opportunities for success than others. Besides an individual’s job search efforts, there are differences in the opportunities that social contexts (can) offer. For example, job seekers with a larger social network reported better employment chances. Interestingly, job seekers with larger social networks also reported better employment chances if they had not engaged these social relations in their job search. Given that social network size and quality are related to socioeconomic and demographic background, graduates differ in their opportunities for school to-work transition success. The third finding is that graduates perceive and act differently upon the social context. For example, we found that perceived ethnic group work norms are, in general, related to individual work motivation, but this was especially true among job seekers who are generally more sensitive to their environment (i.e., overcontrollers). Aligning with the idea of individual differences in contextual sensitivity, we found that especially less emotionally stable job applicants noticed chance events in a job interview context, even when all applicants were exposed to those events. Also, given that proactive job seekers were more likely to act upon discrimination, it suggests that proactive individuals may be more likely to perceive potential obstacles as a challenge rather than as a threat. Hence, there seem individual…