The early labour-market returns to upper secondary qualifications track in England

Capsada-Munsech, Q. and Boliver, V. (2021) The early labour-market returns to upper secondary qualifications track in England. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(3), pp. 299-322. (doi: 10.1332/175795921x16119468619598)

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We explore the early labour-market returns to following the academic track (such as A levels) rather than the vocational track (for example, NVQs) in upper secondary education in England. England is an interesting country case because students are ‘free to choose’ which upper secondary track they follow, unlike to many other European countries where standardised tests and teachers’ recommendations play a much larger role. We draw on data from the longitudinal survey Next Steps and register data from the National Pupil Database. We consider occupational social class and net disposable income at age 25 as early labour-market outcomes to explore to what extent the upper secondary qualification track has a net influence on them, controlling for pre-track measured ability, relevant socio-demographic characteristics and higher education participation. Our results show that following the academic track in upper secondary education is associated with higher chances of being employed in a service class occupation at age 25, compared to those with vocational upper secondary qualifications or no upper secondary qualifications at all. Subsequent participation in (prestigious) universities further improves the chances of service class membership. Interestingly, there does not seem to be a differentiated effect of following the academic rather than the vocational track by socio-economic status, except for those that did not subsequently attend university. Unlike access to service class occupations, we find no net effect of upper secondary track on disposable income at age 25 after controlling for prior attainment at GCSE and subsequent participation in higher education.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: This work is part of the LIFETRACK project, which is financially supported by the NORFACE Joint Research Programme on Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course, which is co-funded by the European Commission through Horizon 2020 under grant agreement No 724363.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Capsada-Munsech, Dr Queralt
Authors: Capsada-Munsech, Q., and Boliver, V.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Professional Learning and Leadership
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Educational Leadership & Policy
Journal Name:Longitudinal and Life Course Studies
Publisher:Bristol University Press
ISSN (Online):1757-9597
Published Online:12 February 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Longitudinal and Life Course Studies 12(3): 299-322
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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