Author(s):Jakob Kost (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2017

Network:02. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)


Session Information

02 SES 08 B, Recognition, Validation and Acquisition of VET qualifications

Paper Session



Chair:Petri Nokelainen


Patterns of Labour Market Entry and Further Education of Succesful Migrants in the Swiss VET System – a Latent-Class-Approach

People with migration background are considered predominantly unsuccessful, problematic and less educated. What concerns the acquisition of education in a European context, foreign youths from migrant families are at a disadvantage compared to native students, and this is true for the field of pre-school institutional support and the field of primary and secondary school education as well as vocational training (e.g. Becker & Lauterbach, 2004). For example in Switzerland only every tenth student with a minority background qualifies for university studies (Imhasly, 2004). In Switzerland and Germany trainees with migration background search longer for a job after completing successfully their training compared to trainees without migration background (e.g. Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2008).

However, such data also express the predominant, deficit-oriented point of view from which the issue of “migration and acquiring competences” is usually looked at. But this prevents us from recognizing the fact that nevertheless there are successful young people with a migration background in our schoolsystem. There is good empirical evidence for their existence, e. g. in the Anglo-Saxon countries in the Swann report (Department for Education and Science, 1985) or in the Swiss National Science Foundation Project on “Secondos” (Bolzmann et al., 2003). Although various, mostly qualitatively-oriented studies (e.g. Hamburger et al., 2006 or Raiser, 2007) have proven that educational success with a migration background is definitely possible and that there is evidence for migrants successfully developing their performance during vocational training and further on. However, statistic data are almost non-existent.

On the basis of data of the three-years longitudinal study MIRAGE (MigrantInnen als gesellschaftliche Aufsteiger – Migrants as Ascenders) this contribution analyses in a quantitative way people with a migration background who have completed their vocational training with particular success in comparison to successful natives trainees. In the focus of interest are the guiding questions about the conditions of their success in vocational training and about their pathways into professional work after training and further education – with a specific interest on different patterns among students with migration background.

Five theoretical explanation patterns for the educational outcome of migrants build the basis of the empirical analysis. They are explanations of cultural deficits, human capital-theoretical approaches, as well as explanations based on features such as school, institutional discrimination or the resilience concept (Stamm, Leumann, Kost 2014). The potential influential factors derived from these theoretical approaches will be put together to form a working model for the explanation of educational and work success following Heller (1997). The model distinguishes three main groups of variables: predictor, moderator and criterion variables. As predictors, all learning and development conditions are of interest which we assume to be in a causal relationship to the criterion performance. Moderator variables are non-cognitive characteristics and environmental conditions as systematically moderating the connection between predictors and criterion. Under criterion variables, those performance variables are summarized which are supposed to be explained: educational and work success. 


The Mirage Study was conducted from 2009 to 2012. Based on the result of the final examination and the criterions “nationality” and “native language” 1614 of the most successful trainees in 18 German-speaking cantons were selected. They were contacted with a written questionnaire with questions to the migration background and other aspects. On the basis of the data from this questionnaire in a second step the groups „people with migration background (MB)“ (N=301) as well as the comparison group „natives“ (N=452) were created. The group „people with MB“ consists of successful trainees, of those at least one parent was born abroad. With the purpose of analyzing the conditions of their success in vocational training, their former trainers were interviewed by written questionnaire once in 2009. To pursue the longitudinal development of the professional activities of the two sub-groups, the participants in the survey were interviewed by written questionnaires in one-year periods (2010 and 2011). Additionally, in order to record cognitive skills, the successful graduates were tested with CFT-20-R (Culture Fair Test).
The data were analyzed by univariate and multivariate statistical procedures, latter in order to evaluate the relative significance of social-ecologic and social-structural conditions in respect of their cumulative effect on work success. Some results of the Study are already published (Stamm, Leumann, Kost, 2014). For ECER 2017 new latent-class-analysis are conducted in order to analyse different styles of labour market entries and PET participation among these young skilled workers with migration backgound.

Expected Outcomes

The largest part of successful former trainees with migration background has parents, who come from a typical immigration country for Swiss context. To the socio-economic status it can be held that the successful trainees with migration background come from different social contexts. Compared with the native ones they are over-represented both at the upper and at the lower end of the scale concerning the parents’ education. Regarding the job position of the parents, they are only over-represented at the lower end in the low qualification sector. The data of the first survey show, that parents of successful former trainees with migration background had significantly higher education expectations than native parents. Concerning the mutual support in the families as well as the willingness of the former trainees to fulfill parental expectations, no significant differences result. To a large extent, successful trainees with migration background correspond to the picture of the “ideal trainee”: no apprenticeship contract termination, high enthusiasm for and identification with the occupation as well as a positive attitude towards vocational training school. Compared to the native ones they do not differ in this regard. At the congress, new results of latent-class-analysis concerning the trainees’ patterns of entry into the labour market will be presented, including their pathways to professional education and training (PET) programms on a tertiary level.


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Stamm, M., Leumann, S. & Kost, J. (2015). Erfolgreiche Migranten. Ihr Ausbildungs- und Berufserfolg im Schweizer Berufsbildungssystem. Münster: Waxmann.

Author Information

Jakob Kost (presenting)
University of Teacher Education Bern