What is school to work transition and why focus on it?
School-to-work transition generally refers to the critical socio-economic life changing period between approximately 15 to 24 years of age – a period when young individuals develop and build skills, based on their initial education and training that helps them become productive members of the society. Some of the most immediate economic considerations of this period in a young person’s life include issues related to education and skills development, unemployment and inactivity, job search, labor market entry and segmentation, occupational matches, stable employment and adequate income. Analyzing the transition from school to work is quite intricate because many young people begin employment while in school, migrate out of their communities, perform casual or unpaid work, or are easily discouraged from job searching. In addition there are multiple pathways for acquiring skills and furthering education including different institutional set ups, such as age of compulsory education, tracking into general and technical streams and formal and informal mechanisms of skills development.
The World Development Report 2007: Development and the Next Generation (WDR 2007) presents a comprehensive approach of life transitions into the challenges of adulthood, it focuses on the five major transition faced by youth including, learning for life, transitioning to work, healthy adolescence, forming families, and exercising citizenship. The report outlines the need to broaden opportunities available to young individuals, develop their capabilities and need to offer second chances to those who fail to make the right choices the first instance. The WDR recommends creating country specific comprehensive youth policies which are integrated into national policies; giving youth a voice and decision-making power; and, rigorously evaluating what policies and programs work for youth in particular country contexts.
Of the five transitions outlined in the WDR, the education sector mainly focuses on the first two – learning for life and the school-to-work transition. These two issues are intricately intertwined with the other issues of healthy adolescence, family life and the avoidance of risk-taking behaviors. The WDR 2007 has provided ample evidence from around the world, the issue of school-to-work transition and employment of youth is a major challenge faced both by the poorest countries as well as the middle income countries. As the poorest countries come closer to achieving the MDGs of universal basic education, the policy makers face issues of how to expand post-basic education in a way that would facilitate the growth of the economy; for instance, whether the expansion of pre-employment vocational and technical education might be more beneficial than that of general education that prepares youth for a broader skills market. The World Bank education sector’s work attempts to help countries form education policies that can improve the learning experiences of young people and help ease the transition into the world of work.