Adult learning, vocational skills and labour market outcomes

Researcher Anna Hagen Tønder, Fafo

The aim of this project is to increase our understanding of motivating factors and effects of obtaining formal vocational qualifications as adults.

The project combines qualitative and quantitative research methods. In the qualitative part we have interviewed 34 persons who obtained their diploma in either carpentry or in child care and youth work at the age of 25-35. We also analyse register data, where education data are linked to data on labour market outcomes.

Regression analyses of register data show that those who obtain a trade certificate as adults based on work experience have a social background similar to those who do not complete upper secondary education. This means that the opportunity to obtain a trade certificate based on work experience is an institutional arrangement in Norwegian VET with a potential to reduce social inequalities.

Preliminary analysis of qualitative interview data indicate that the driving forces and motivations for obtaining a trade certificate vary between the male-dominated carpenter trade and the female-dominated child care and youth worker trade. Whereas decisions to obtain a trade certificate in carpentry is often supported by employers, child care and youth workers often seem to be motivated by personal reasons.

The findings raises questions about the different positions of the two trades in the work organisation, but also about gender issues in VET.