Vocational versus general education

Vocational versus general education

The latest issue of LIVES Impact, co-authored by Pascal Maeder and Maïlys Korber, investigates the differences in terms of professional perspectives in Switzerland between individuals who have followed a vocational training and those who have opted for a general education.

Vocational education and training (VET) is known to ease the entry into the labour market by providing specific skills that are readily applicable in a given occupation. This type of education may enable young individuals to find a good match at the beginning of their career, but it may also leave older workers vulnerable to technological change and shifts in the occupational structure. On the other hand, holders of general education may face more difficulties when entering the labour market due to a lack of work-related skills but may be better rewarded after several years of experience due to the larger flexibility of general skills. To address this question, Maïlys Korber investigated employment and wages over the life course for holders of vocational education, and compared them with holders of general education, both at the upper-secondary level. A summary of the results is presented in this policy brief. The following key messages are developped in this issue:

  • Vocational training and education (VET) is associated with an employment advantage for men when compared with upper secondary general education (GE) up to age 30. Thereafter, both groups have similarly high employment rates.
  • The employment prospects of women are very similar over the life course regardless of vocational or general education.
  • General education is associated with higher hourly wage for both men and women over the life course. Initially, men with a VET earn more until age 30 whilst GE trained women already enjoy an advantage at age 26.

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LIVES Impact (ISSN: 2297-6124) publishes regularly briefs with policy-relevant research findings from studies conducted at the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES “Overcoming Vulnerability: Life-course perspectives” (NCCR LIVES). It is aimed at professionals, public officials and representatives active in social policy and related fields

Series Editor: Pascal Maeder, KTT Officer, pascal.maeder@hes-so.ch