Inequalities in school leavers’ labour market outcomes: do school subject choices matter?
Iannelli, C. & Duta, A. (2017) UK Administrative Data Research Network Annual Research Conference, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, UK, 1 - 2 June 2017 [SLS]
Despite a large international literature on the effect of vocational and general education on school-to-work transition, relatively little is known about the role of having studied specific subjects in explaining inequalities in young people's labour market outcomes. This paper aims to fill this gap by examining the extent to which subject choices mediate social background and gender differences in early labour market integration of young people who left education early, either at the end of compulsory schooling or at the end of secondary school. We use data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study which is a large-scale linkage study created using data from administrative and statistical sources. These include: census data from 1991 onwards; vital events data (births, deaths, marriages); NHS Central Register data (gives information on migration into or out of Scotland); and education data (including Schools Census and SQA data). Our extract contains information about individuals' ascriptive characteristics (gender and family background) from 2001 Census data, their activity status from 2011 Census data, and their educational attainment (with detailed information about subjects studied and grades achieved). We analyse gender and social class differences in school leavers' employment status and type of occupation entered and the extent to which these differences can be explained by school subject choices (and attainment). The results show little gender differences but strong parental background differences in young people's labour market outcomes. Only a few subjects were associated with a reduction in the chances of being unemployed/inactive. Overall grades were found to be more important in explaining social background differences among lower-secondary leavers while curriculum more important in explaining the same differences among upper-secondary leavers.