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VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon

Well-schooled for Work? School-work and work-school transitions, and the labor market returns to vocational education and training

Alternative title: Utdannelse for arbeid? Overganger mellom skole og arbeid, arbeid og skole og arbeidsmarkedsavkastning for fag- og yrkesopplæring.

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

In industrialized countries, workers with low skill levels are experiencing wage stagnation and increasing levels of unemployment. In Norway, the share of prime-aged workers not in employment is rising. Worryingly, the pandemic may have caused a further long-term reduction in employment, and those with low levels of education or outdated skills are especially at risk. Well-schooled for Work aims to address the challenges faced by youth that are at risk of dropping out of school or training and workers with low levels of education or outdated skills that struggle to find permanent jobs. Through the project, the education sector, the welfare sector and researchers share knowledge in order to develop an understanding of these societal challenges, evaluate already implemented programs, cooperate to design and test new programs, and ultimately offer some policy recommendations. The project will use surveys, administrative data and experiments to learn more about students’ choices of and rewards from vocational education and training, the transitions from school to workplace training and to the labor market and from work or unemployment to school. In the first work package, labor market returns to vocational education and training, we estimate the returns to different vocational fields and inform students of the returns to see how that affects their schooling decisions. In the second work package, the school-to-work transition, we will assess the effect of an existing school-to-apprenticeship program and use of practitioners input to design and implement a novel program to promote this transition. In the third work package, the work-to-school transition, we will make use of the education reforms and expansions of policies enabling the return to work and conduct a field experiment targeted at training for NAV clients with skill needs.

In industrialized countries, workers with low skill levels are experiencing wage stagnation and increasing levels of unemployment. In Norway, the share of prime-aged workers not in employment is rising. Worryingly, the current pandemic may cause a further long-term reduction in employment, and those with low levels of education or outdated skills are especially at risk. Well-schooled for Work aims to develop new knowledge to reduce these societal challenges, by combining knowledge sharing between partners in the education and welfare sector and the research team, state-of-the-art micro-econometric methodology and rich register data, surveys and field experiments. To make causal inference, we will use several natural experiments, well-established statistical approaches, and randomized controlled trials (RCTs). In the first work package, labor market returns to vocational education and training, we will apply a regression discontinuity design to grade thresholds of oversubscribed vocational fields. This design makes use of exogenous variation in being admitted to a given vocational field for applicants around the grade threshold for admittance. Furthermore, we use a RCT to investigate the effect of providing information on labor market returns of different fields on the field choice of students. In the second work package, the school-to-work transition, we will identify the causal effect of an existing school-to-apprenticeship program by comparing treated students to non-treated students in a difference-in-differences design. We will also make use of practitioners input to design and implement a novel program to promote this transition using a RCT. In the third work package, the work-to-school transition, we will make use of the education reforms and expansions of policies enabling the return to work in difference-indifferences and instrumental variable designs and conduct an RCT to evaluate the effect of a targeted training offer to NAV clients with skill needs.

Funding scheme:

VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon