Factors Leading to Development or Stagnation in the School-to-Work Transition of Economically Disadvantaged Youths

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Steven Sek-yum NGAI, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
This paper examines the factors leading to development or stagnation in the school-to-work transition of economically disadvantaged young people. Based on eight focus group interviews with 50 youths growing up from low-income families in Hong Kong, our results show that this population is among the most disadvantaged in school-to-work transition, as the majority of these youths were either engaged in low-skill jobs with limited career prospects or disengaged from both work and education. Among the interviewees, those who left school early were at the greatest risk for social exclusion, as most of them were unemployed for more than one year. Contextual influences such as lower levels of parental involvement and lack of further education opportunities were found to constrain both the formulation and pursuit of educational and career goals. In contrast, service use and supportive interactions with parents and non-family adults were found to foster more adaptive transition. Furthermore, our results indicate a striking difference in intrapersonal agency and coping styles between young people who were attending further education or engaged in jobs with advancement opportunities and those who were not. The implications of our findings for future research and policy development are discussed.