As governments around the world seek to tackle stubbornly high levels of youth unemployment, new attention has been focused on the relationship between education and employment. Both researchers and policy-makers have looked afresh at the capacity of employers to engage in education and training to improve young people’s preparation for the adult working world. New studies have asked, can employer engagement enhance student educational performance and if so, how does it do it?
The Australian Centre for Career Education have published Education and Employers 2016 study of PISA data which offers insight into whether employer engagement can have educational benefits, and how such relationships might work. It draws on data from the OECD’s 2012 study in which some countries opted to ask 15-year old participants whether they had taken part in a series of career development activities (CDA). In the new analysis, data from six countries was used (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Ireland) in relation to participation in four popular careers-focused activities commonly delivered through schools: taking part in Internships, Job shadowing, Job fairs and speaking with a careers advisor in school. In a regression analysis which took account of a common range of social, demographic and behavioral characteristics which routinely influence student success in education, participation in CDA was tested to see if it influenced attitudes towards schooling. Responses to four statements were tested including School is a waste of time, School helps to get a job and School does little to prepare you for life.
In most cases, a positive and statistically significant relationship between participation in career development activities and more positive attitudes towards the utility of schooling was found. The most consistent positive effects are found in relationship to speaking with a careers advisor in school and attending a Job fair. Relationships are particularly strong in Finland and Ireland. The study offers fresh insight into the complex relationship between education and employment and how young people’s attitudes about education and its value can potentially be influenced by schools and colleges by exposing students to new experiences. Further analysis of the relationship between participation in CDA and performance on the PISA tests is planned.
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