Vocational Education and Gendered School-to-Work Transitions in Switzerland and Japan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:10 PM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Akio INUI , Division of Psychology and Pedagogy, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Hachioji, Japan
Christian IMDORF , University of Basel, Switzerland
Mai SUGITA , Kanazawa University, Japan
The labour markets of Japan and Switzerland are significantly gender segregated. In Switzerland the seed for labour market gender segregation begins with the gendered career orientations of young school leavers. Via the Vocational education and training (VET) system and the occupational linkage of education and employment, early career aspirations are transformed into gendered employment opportunities. VET is indeed very prominent in Switzerland, where seven out of ten upper secondary graduates come from vocational programs.

But the case of Japan challenges the assumption that gender segregation is mainly due to gender segregated VET. Japan's upper secondary graduation rates figures are more than reversed from those of Switzerland with three out of four graduates having enrolled in general programmes and only one out of four in VET. Within VET, however, Japan (JP) and Switzerland (CH) show a similar distribution of upper secondary vocational graduates by field of education and gender. Still, the contribution of the highly competitive academic education system to gender segregation in Japan remains unclear. Therefor the paper asks how education systems in Switzerland and Japan promote gender-typed trajectories into the labour market differently.

We use comparable youth panel data for both countries to analyse our research question (JP: Youth cohort study of Japan; CH: Transitions from Education to Employment TREE). Our dependant variable is job gender concentration as measured on industry level. We apply stepwise linear regressions to analyse country specific effects of (1) junior high school variables (CH: track, marks, literacy skills; JP: position of class), (2) senior high school variables (field of VET, academic level), (3) higher education variables (field of study, short vs. long studies), (4) family background variables, and finally (5) gender on job gender concentration.

The findings allow for a critical assessment of VET’s contribution to job gender segregation in different educational systems.