Drop out of Dual-Track Vocational Education and Training

This study reviews youngsters who prematurely interrupted their dual-track VET. It consists of a qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews. The analysis of testimonies examines the reasons put forward by the youngsters to explain the training interruption, how they experience this situation, suffering at work and the strategies adopted by the youngsters to face this suffering. A second stage puts forward an analysis of the varied significance involved in prematurely dropping out of VET.

Adobe Stock / sebra

The study targets four objectives. First, the task is to better understand how youngsters feel and explain their dropout from dual-track VET: what are the reasons according to them? What processes led to interrupting their training? Secondly, a second reading of these testimonies serves to identify links between dropout and identity questioning. Indeed, if on the one hand certain dropouts are partly explained through identity problems, on the other hand a dropout may in turn hamper the construction of youngsters’ personal and vocational identity. Thirdly, the varying significance of a premature interruption should be stressed. Some interruptions may indeed be seen as a one-off incident which does not jeopardize the youngster’s future development, in which case one refers to continuity in the curriculum. In contrast, other interruptions seem to bar any vocational plan by leading the person into a dead end, in which case one refers to a dropout. Between these two extreme positions there are a series of so-called “discontinuity” situations. Fourthly, the results of the study will serve to put forward intervention and awareness-raising measures to prevent apprenticeship dropouts, adjusted to the way in which youngsters perceive or explain the problem.


The methodology involves qualitative analyses of the content of 46 semi-structured interviews of an average 1-hour duration conducted with apprentices having left the VET system in the first year. The interviews are structured around three major themes: socio-biographic data (school and life experience), reasons for the interruption (divided into reasons of a personal, relational or systemic type) and the current situation (representations of the youngsters having dropped out, management of this dropout and future prospects). The interviews are recorded, transcribed and coded. The analysis categories are as follows: reasons for dropout, how the dropout is felt, influence of the dropout on future plans, socio-biographic data, “pioneering” situations, suffering at work, strategies in the face of suffering, representations, network, vocational identity.