from education and initial training to the labor market
economic and social changes (1) during the last decades
had an impact on employment stability for workers. The consequences of these
changes were much more obvious in the employment status of young people,
whose full integration to adult society became more difficult and prolonged.
The process of full integration to working life for most young people is
no longer the crossing of a small bridge between education and a stable
full-time job, but a continuous journey that starts inside the school and
certainly does not end with graduation.
the term "transition", that used to express the traditional
movement from school or apprenticeship directly into the world of work,
nowadays became broader, meaning the various pathways that young people
take inside educational and occupational structures (2).
More spesifically, the term "transition from education/initial training
to working life" refers to "the period of time during which
young people move from their principal activity of full-time schooling (or
its vocational equivalent) to that in which their principal activity is
work" (3). Thus, the transition period starts at the
first years of lower secondary schooling and lasts up to an age of late
twenties. According to another definition, "transition starts in the
first year of that age, at which fewer than 75 per cent of the population
are in education, and is ending in the first year of age, at which 50 per
cent of the population are in work but not in education" (4).
the process of moving from initial education to work, namely the first transition,
is only one of many transitions that young people will need to make throughout
their adult lives (5). However it is the most critical,
because it may influence crucially the span of opportunities for education,
training and work for the rest of their lives.
"transition debate" started in the 1970's, together with the increased
youth unemployment, and was focused initially on particular problems that
early school leavers and young people with limited skills face, when trying
to enter the work force. The debate also explored the effectiveness of vocational
and technical education. However, nowadays, it is widely recognized that
the first transition can pose problems for most school leavers; those who
enter the labor market directly from secondary school or apprenticeship,
as well as those who enter further education and training pathways before
seeking employment or those who combine education and work in various ways.
All young people need to develop skills and competences that enhance their
employability; to acquire those qualifications that will secure not only
a first job early after graduation but also will help them avoid exclusion
from the labor market on a long-term basis and help them cope with unforseen
changes and become effective learners throughout their adult lives. These
have also been the stated objectives of OECD's thematic review on the "transition"
educational policy (6).
related directly or indirectly to the concept of transition, like: eliminating
barriers for entering tertiary education, structure and content of education,
modernisation of curricula, extent of acquiring work-qualifications during
education and initial training, etc., which usually stand in the foreground
of the education debate, forming the cornerstones of almost every educational
reform, are on focus nowadays as never before.
"transition" is - appart from being the focus for the Ministry
of Education - an issue which interests other institutions as well, which
formulate and wield education or employment policy directly or indirectly:
Ministry of Labor, local authorities, social partners organizations, research
institutes, etc. All these institutions need reliable, well documented information
in order to be able to contribute with their policy to the improvement of
the transition process. But also the students themselves need information
on labor market developments, training and employment opportunities, working
life consequences of different education and professional options etc.,
in order to identify in due time those criteria that will enable them to
make autonomous, conscious and realistic educational and vocational choices.
Finally, reliable transition information is useful also for teachers and
parents, so that they may be well informed to advise young people effectively.
collecting, analyzing and disseminating data concerning youth transition
most developed countries, data needed for policy making in education/ initial
training and employment areas are being collected through "Graduate
surveys". Some of these surveys are carried out by National Statistical
Services in the framework of population censuses or by Statistical Services
of the Education- and Labor- Ministries, in the form of school-population
and labor force surveys (Belgium, Denmark, Scandinavian countries, Germany)
and usually provide general data on the labor market performance of graduates.
Most of the graduate surveys are carried out systematically and on a continuous
basis using structured mechanisms, called "observatories".
These "school-to-work transition observatories" aim mainly at
monitoring initial education and training pathways leading to working life,
qualification changes and relationships between supply and demand in various
economic sectors and for various professions at both a national and regional
level. The surveys include objectives such as to analyze collected statistical
data, to compare them with relevant data generated with different methods
by other services and to generate useful outcomes.
observatories are found either incorporated in the Education- and Labor
ministries or they are set up as independent research institutes, or even
located in universities and other research institutions. Depending on their
scope, they are classified relative to the research design (objectives,
population and sample size, methodology, ways of disseminating findings
surveys are conducted by observatories, are conducted on a regular basis
(mostly annually), on representative samples of graduate cohorts of different
school types and education levels, 1-3 years after graduation, usually using
mail questionnaires. They include a number of quantitative and qualitative
variables such as: socioeconomic background, school achievement, pathways
through initial education and training leading to working life, retrospective
-monthly or semi annually - mapping of professional status, professional
and geographical mobility, attitudes towards education and work, income,
job satisfaction, employment stability, participation in continuing education
and training courses, strategies for seeking and finding work, employment
aspirations etc. In many cases a cross sectional survey following graduation
is complemented by a longitudinal study aiming to explore the same variables
in the course of time.
The following Observatories
in Europe are worth mentioning:
of the above observatories have a long tradition (e.g. ESRI/Ireland,
1980s), others were established recently (Portugal). Outside Europe
significant observatories function for many years in North America (USA,
Canada), Japan and Australia.
data on education, training and employment in different European countries
can be found in EUROSTAT
publications. These data, however, are not sufficient, because they
are very general and besides not easily comparable, since different
countries adopt different semantic frameworks and methodologies. Nevertheless,
with the support of European institutions like CEDEFOP,
Foundation, etc., transparency of data among European countries
grows ever greater and researchers are given more and more opportunities
for exchanging new knowledge and experience. Transition networks are
set up and comparative research projects are undertaken. Typical examples
of such networks are the "European Transitions in Youth" and
the program CATEWE
till recently, had not been participating in the European transition
debate. It generally lacked the necessary valid quantitative and qualitative
data that could allow its participation and facilitate the analysis
of the complex relationships between the education system and the labor
market, as well as the adjustment of the related work and education
national policies (8). Only recently the significant
rise of unemployment, underemployment and mismatch of graduates of all
education levels, ignited the transition debate also in Greece. However,
the studies conducted are confined only to pointing out the problem
and reviewing related issues in the international literature and experience
(9). A serious effort on the mappping of employment is made by the
National Observatory of Employment (EPA).
The National Observatory
of Employment: It is an institute supervised by the Greek Manpower
Employment Organization (OAED),
with administrative and operational autonomy, aiming at recording and
analyzing the basic indicators of the labor market and employment. It
has designed and applied a model of registration and medium-term forecasting
of vocational training needs. It also applies a model of identifying
specialties and skills in demand for all professions. Its documentation
is based on: a) data originally generated in other services with expertise
in labor market issues (ESYE, employers and labor union surveys) and
b) primary empirical data generated from surveys conducted by EPA itself,
mainly in geographical areas that face demographic problems, problems
of restructuring the production system, pockets of unemployment, etc.
EPA's activities are
oriented exclusively to the labor market and do not overlap into educational
policy issues such as transition of school leavers from education to work
or relationships between curricula contents and employers' requirements.
This deficit is covered by the Transition Observatory, which deals with
transition more as an individual-centered than an economy-centered process.
Observatory of the Pedagogical Institute (P.I.): The project "Development
of an Observatory of secondary education graduates in the labor market"
was carried out in the period 1997-1999 by a research team of the P.I.
and was funded by the B' European Community Support Framework. Central
component of the project was a feasibility study, which included a
pilot survey of secondary education graduates, who did not enroll
in tertiary education. This survey produced significant evidence on
youth establishment in the labor market, but also provided the opportunity
for testing different alternative research methods and approaches, and
for exploring parameters relevant to the development of the observatory.
The following issues were explored:
- Scope and objectives
of the observatory, organizational structure, surveys on focus
- Identification of critical target groups (age of young people, ways of
- Sampling methods
- Selecting proper interviewers
- Clarity and validity of questionnaire
- Frequency of surveys
- Possibilities for comparing and correlating with other findings
- Ways of classifying occupations
- Assignment of data entry and statistical analysis
- Ways of disseminating outputs and products
of the above issues were explored with another survey (Interviewers' survey),
which was in fact a parallel evaluation of the Graduates' survey, since
the interviewers were asked to report their experience from the field study
and to evaluate the questionnaire and the whole procedure followed. Decisive
for the successful realization of the overall project was a formative and
summative evaluation by Greek and foreign external evaluators.
project resulted in a comprehensive, well documented proposal for the establishment
of the Transition Observatory (10). The term "Transition"
was considered to cover the whole range of activities of an Observatory,
which approaches for the first time the student before leaving compulsory
education and monitors him periodically until his establishment and stabilization
in the labor market.
to the research team's proposal, the Transition Observatory, through monitoring
and mapping the educational/vocational choices of young people and exploring
their career patterns, aims at examining the accountability of the education
system, supporting the related educational policy and improving Careers
Education. These objectives would be pursued through regular and occasional
studies, large scale surveys but also through Ad Hoc case studies, at national
or/and regional level. The following four surveys which will be repeated
in regular time periods at national level, are intended to be the centrum
of the Observatory's activities:
and occupational pathways of Greek Youth (longitudinal survey)
- The School-to-Work
transition of Vocational Education Students (longitudinal survey)
study in compulsory education (census)
of basic occupational skills (Ad Hoc Committees)
on regional needs, occasional graduates surveys may be carried out, as well
as surveys on issues concerning the social partners etc.
(1)Globalization, information revolution,
economic restructuring as a result of market globalization and of advanced
technology, structural transformation of public and private domain, increased
non formal employment, new skills and knowledge requirements, changes in
qualification requirements for various jobs etc.
(3)This definition was formulated in the
program "The transition from initial education to working life",
which is a comparative analysis among European countries in the framework
of OECD. OECD "Thematic Review: The transition from initial education
to working life" Interim comparative report, 1998, p.8.
(4)OECD "Thematic Review: "The
transition from initial education to working life" Interim comparative
report, 1998, p. 115
(5)In the foreign literature the term
"transitions" is used to convey the number and the variety
of movements from education and training into working life. See OECD
"Thematic Review: "The transition from initial education to
working life" Interim comparative report, 1998, p.8 and http://hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/arb/research/school95/engdoc/c1.htm
(6)OECD "Thematic Review: "The
transition from initial education to working life" Interim comparative
report, 1998, p.8
(7)The program CATEWE, in which 7 countries
participate (Ireland, Holland, Scotland, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal),
aims at analyzing the transition from education to work in a comparative
European perspective. Using data derived from school leavers' surveys and
Labor Force Surveys, both cross sectional and longitudinal, it aims to develop
a more satisfactory framework for understanding transitions in different
European systems and to use this framework to analyze the factors affecting
success and failure in education/training outcomes and labor market integration.
Other programs are: IDARESA (Hannan, Lamb et all, 1994), CASMIN (Mueller
& Shavit, 1997), LIRHE (Beduwe & Espinasse, 1977) etc.
(8)The lack of these data is also affecting
the Careers Education program. Students experience Careers Education as
a "subject" concerning choice of studies according to their interests
and abilities and do not associate it with future profession and career
(9)E.g. see OEEK: "Study of methods
mapping labor market needs and exploring a system for monitoring vocational
education" Evaluation, 1994
(10)The proposal was exposed for discussion
with stake-holders of the Ministry of Education, the Pedagogical Institute
and the National Observatory of Employment, in the framework of a summative
external evaluation. Moreover two external evaluators, both university professors,
were contracted for a summative evaluation of the proposal.