School-to-work transition and vocational education: a comparison across Europe

Irene Brunetti (Istituto Nazionale per l’Analisi delle Politiche Pubbliche, Rome, Italy)
Lorenzo Corsini (Department of Economics, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 4 November 2019



Youth unemployment is one of the major problems that the economic systems face. Given this issue, the purpose of this paper is to assess whether school-to-work transition is easier for individuals with secondary vocational education compared to general secondary education. The authors want to explore which vocational systems across Europe produce better effects.


The authors use data from a module on “Entry of young people into the labour market” from the 2009 and 2014 European Labour Survey and they estimate multinomial probit models, allowing for violation of the irrelevance of the alternative assumption.


The authors find that in countries with the dual vocational system, vocational education improves employability both in the short and medium run, whereas in countries with a school-based vocational system, results are mixed and, only in some cases, the effect of vocational studies is significantly positive.

Research limitations/implications

Sample size for short-run analysis is a bit small in a few countries (Austria and Germany). Moreover, even if the authors have reason to believe that the methods adopted are mitigating the omitted heterogeneity issues and robustness checks are run on these aspects, these issues cannot be fully excluded.

Practical implications

The authors provide policy implications, showing that dual vocational systems can improve school-to-work transitions and that vocational structure is particularly effective in this case.

Social implications

The authors provide information on which education model may offer better chance in terms of labour outcomes.


Given the relevance of youth unemployment, the authors provide valuable information on how to mitigate this problem. The use of cross-country comparisons offers great insights on which vocational systems appear to be well-suited to enhance employability.



The usual disclaimers apply. The analysis is based on data obtained from European Commission, Eurostat, contract RPP 14/2018-EU-SILC-AES-SES. Eurostat has no responsibility for the results and conclusions which are those of the researchers only. The authors are grateful to Valeria De Feo for her help with proofreading. The comments of the editor and of the referees helped us in improving the quality of our work: the authors are grateful for their suggestions.


Brunetti, I. and Corsini, L. (2019), "School-to-work transition and vocational education: a comparison across Europe", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 40 No. 8, pp. 1411-1437.

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