216.8 Occupational choice for personal vs. public benefit: Comparison of Soviet and post-Soviet youth cohorts

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 10:15 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Ieva KARKLINA , University of Latvia, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Primary author, Riga, Latvia
Aleksandrs ALEKSANDROVS , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Ilze KOROLEVA , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Increase of population education level is supposed to be tightly related with economy growth, increase of wealth, and decrease of poverty and unemployment. After the restoration of independence in Latvia in 1991, a constantly increasing number of students in higher education and graduates broke into the labour market. At the same time, the transition to market economy fostered inequalities: rapid stratification based on wealth, and spreading poverty. In the paper we approach these contradictions through cross-generational comparison of young people’s transition from education to employment, their occupational choices, and effects of education on further life-paths. Analysis is based on the data from representative national youth surveys carried out between 1970 and 2011.

Just 25 years ago, upon graduating from secondary school there were only two options provided for young people: to start employment, or to move towards a higher education diploma. Each kind of secondary education came with rigid programme and corresponding type of career path. At the time, close links between education levels, corresponding economy sectors, and assignments of work places, kept education system and labour market synchronised; thus, transition from education to employment was clear and foreseeable.

The following decades released all forms of higher education from imposed limitations and stimulated development, which led to the growth of student cohorts.

The present day young people’s career values are powered by requirements of well-paid positions and progressive career opportunities. However, regardless of labour market demand, school graduates’ actual choices still show dominance of social, law and business disciplines. Then, transition from education to labour market puts graduates face-to-face with other reality: unemployment, uncertainty, job insecurity in long term, low pay that often doesn’t correspond to education level — these are just few of risk factors that threaten youth inclusion into labour market nowadays.