The role of vocational specificity and skill demand in explaining long-term labour market outcomes of people with VET

The project is intended to shed light on the reasons why the long-term labour market outcomes of vocational qualification holders differ considerably between training occupations in terms of mobility, income prospects and the risk of precarious employment or unemployment.

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We are focusing on how careers are affected by the interplay of general and specific skills imparted during education and training and the skills requirements on the labour market. Our premise is that the 230 or so upper-secondary level VET programmes impart varying degrees of knowledge and skills that can also be effectively applied in other occupational fields, and therefore encourages job mobility. In addition to general knowledge, such transversal competences include foreign language skills, communication and social skills as well as problem-solving skills.

There has been intense debate within the research community on the impact that general and occupation-specific skills have on careers. Research findings thus far have stirred up some controversy, specifically on the question of whether holders of vocational qualifications are at a disadvantage with respect to holders of general education qualifications. The debate fails to take into account the fact that VET programmes are very diverse and that the skills taught vary by occupation. Hardly any research has been conducted on the impact that different types of skills have on long-term career success or on the role played by changing skills requirements on the labour market. This research project is intended to help fill these gaps and to optimise the training content of VET programmes.


The analyses are being performed on the basis of three individual data sets: the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS) conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO); the Transition from Education to Employment (TREE) study conducted by the University of Bern and Job Placement Database (AVAM) maintained by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. To measure various types of skills, we refer to the VET ordinances and core syllabuses issued for each VET programme by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

To determine the annual and occupation-specific skills requirements of the labour market, we consult the Swiss Job Market Monitor, which is maintained by the University of Zurich. We also use content and regression analysis methods.