Young People’s Career Expectations and their Impact on the Transition to Adulthood

This seminar focused on the relationship between aspirations and school to work transitions for young people.

Abstract: This paper examined the antecedents and long term outcomes of teenage career aspirations. What are the expectations young people have regarding their educational and occupational pathways? Have these aspirations changed over time? What are the predictors of teenage aspirations, and what are the associated outcomes? These questions were addressed using evidence from different age cohorts of young people born in the UK: the National Child Development Study (NCDS) born in 1958, The British Cohort Study (BCS70) born in 1970, and the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE) born in 1989/90. The findings suggested that later born cohorts have become more ambitious in their aspirations, especially women. Young people today generally anticipate to stay on in higher education and aim for professional jobs, although there appears to be increasing uncertainty regarding occupational choices. While previous studies have shown the importance of teenage career aspirations as predictors of adult attainments, independent of academic attainment and family background, today career selection appears to be prolonged and career choice to take place at a later age. This session stimulated a wider discussion about the role of early career expectations and how to support young people in establishing themselves in the world of work.

Biography: Ingrid Schoon is Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at the Institute of Education, University of London. She is Research Director of the Centre for Youth Transitions (CAYT) funded by the Department of Education, and is coordinating the international post-doctoral Jacobs Foundation Fellowship ‘PATHWAYS to Adulthood’. Her research interests are focused on issues of human development across the life course, in particular the transition from dependent childhood to independent adulthood, the study of risk and resilience, and the realization of individual potential in a changing socio-historical context. Her research has been supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Leverhulme Trust, and the Nuffield Foundation. She is currently working on a project examining the intergenerational transmission of learning engagement for the ESRC Centre on Learning and Life-chances in the Knowledge Economies (Llakes). Her publications include over 100 scholarly articles, a monograph on ‘Risk and Resilience’, and an edited book on ‘Transitions from school-to-work’, both published by Cambridge University Press.
Download Professor Ingrid Schoon’s presentation.