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From School to Career: Towards A Career Perspective on the Labor Market Returns to Education

Project description

Tracing the transition from education to the workplace in an ever-changing landscape

The accelerated modification of the labour market puts in question the adequacy of the education that ensures career prospects. The EU-funded CAREER project will explore the changes of the labour market and their vast impact on individual workers. CAREER aims to utilise unique data of millions of historical job vacancy texts, high-quality panel data, interviews and factorial experiments to trace the transformation of the labour market through comparative research in six countries. Focusing on the role of vocational and general education in the formation of the work landscape, the project aspires to provide solid information for future policymaking and education planning.


Technological changes and the automation of occupational tasks present societies with a challenge: Is it still sensible to provide students with occupation-specific (vocational) education? Or are students with general educational qualifications better equipped for the future, given that what is demanded in the labor market is under rapid change?
While a large literature has shown that graduates with vocational training have a comparatively smooth transition from school to work, it has exclusively focused on the early career. We do not know how and why labor market outcomes vary over the life course, or how careers are affected by changing labor markets.
CAREER investigates how labor market demands change, and how these changes in the macro context affect individual workers. It takes an innovative career perspective to study how and why labor market returns to vocational and general education vary over the life cycle. Its core hypothesis is that vocational graduates have a late-career disadvantage because their occupation-specific skills hinder labor market mobility, particularly when labor market demands alter quickly.
CAREER is a comparative project, and studies six countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Using computational methods on unique data of millions of historical job vacancy texts, we describe how labor markets are changing. Relying on high quality panel data we map how careers of vocational and general graduates develop in changing labor markets. Using interviews, and factorial experiments we expose the theoretical mechanisms that drive career effects.
By extending the observation window from the early to the full career, CAREER shows how workers with specific or general qualifications perform in rapidly changing labor markets. This will not only enrich our understanding of the link between education and the labor market, it will also inform policy makers on a future-proof education system.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 422,00
1012WX Amsterdam

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West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 499 422,00

Beneficiaries (1)