Social Networks and the Transition from Education to Work

Research question/goal: 

The objective of the project was to contribute to a better understanding of the role of social networks in the transition from the education system to the labour market in Germany. We focussed on the transition from lower secondary general education to vocational education and training (VET), which represents the first labour market transition for many young adults.
The project predominantly relied on panel data from Starting Cohort 4 of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). One research paper used class network panel data from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries (CILS4EU).

Our findings suggest that students’ educational expectations at the end of lower secondary education are substantively influenced by significant others. Furthermore, we find that students heavily rely on information and support from social contacts during their transition to VET, with parents playing a key role. While we do not find ethnic differences in general motivation to provide support, immigrant parents seem to be less able to provide specific instrumental support, presumably due to a lack of resources that are specific to the receiving country. Additionally, we find that the probability of children to obtain a VET position is higher the more native contacts and the more social contacts their parents have in the lower labour market segments. The composition of parents’ social networks was found to have no effect on the quality of apprenticeships.

Our results confirm the importance of social contacts at different stages in the transition to VET in Germany. They can influence educational expectations, provide information and support during the career orientation and application phase, and contribute to the success of applications. In this context, the social status and ethnic background of social contacts are decisive in determining their usefulness.

Fact sheet

2015 to 2020
Data Sources: 
Secondary Data Analysis, National Educational Panel Study
Geographic Space: