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New opportunities or reinforced disadvantages? Variation in returns to low-achieving school leavers' participation in pre-vocational training measures - Extension: Dropping out of VET programs (Short: N.O.R.D. 2)


Prof. Dr. Heike Solga, Berlin Social Science Center

Anne-Christine Holtmann, Berlin Social Science Center

Project summary:
In many countries, low-achieving school leavers’ participation in vocational education and training (VET) programs is considered a second chance to keep them in education, to raise their educational attainment, and thereby to enhance their future employment opportunities. However, whether participation in VET programs really provides a second chance not only depends on access to regular VET programs (as studied in the ongoing project N.O.R.D. 1) but also on successful completion of regular VET programs. Prevocational training measures, considered as catching-up programs enhancing employability skills, are also seen as a prevention of low-achieving youth’s dropping out of regular VET programs. Yet, the question is still open whether this is the case. The main research questions of the N.O.R.D. 2 project are therefore: (1) Why are low-achieving school leavers more likely to drop out of regular VET programs than intermediate-educated school leavers? (2) And concerning the claimed goals of participation in prevocational measures, does participation in prevocational training measures impacts on low-achieving youth’s risks of dropping out of VET programs and if so, for whom and why? Low-achieving school leavers are defined as those who left regular schools and special schools for learning disabilities without a degree or with only a (advanced) lower secondary school degree. We will pay particular attention to different selection processes, the heterogeneity of VET dropouts and the causes of dropping out of VET programs. We will employ a matching approach combined with stepwise regressions and decomposition methods to explain differences in VET dropout risks by school-leaving degree (research question 1) and participation in prevocational measures (research question 2), respectively. The project is not only of interest from a policy perspective but will also improve our understanding of the processes and causes of dropping out of VET programs and thus of configurations counteracting or alleviating the accumulations of educational disadvantages.