Transitions in education

Problem statement

‘School-to-work transitions’ refers to programmes and practices that prepare students for the workplace and help them to acquire their first satisfactory job[1]. Preparation through education takes place via the offering of internships, apprenticeships, active citizenship and volunteering activities to students who are preparing to enter the labour market[2]. Education systems also offer career advisors who can help students to adapt to their first workplace[3]. However, high levels of youth unemployment, coupled with the fact that many youths do not make the transition into stable or satisfactory first employment, remains a significant challenge[4]. These issues are caused primarily by a ‘skills gap’ resulting from education systems not delivering the skills and knowledge needed to enter the labour market[5].

Implications for education

In response to alarming levels of youth unemployment, education systems are paying increased attention to ensuring that students complete school-to-work transition and acquire a satisfactory first job. Special attention is being paid to young people in disadvantaged schools and colleges, first-generation students, students with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. The hands-on approaches being employed include peer mentoring programmes to increase university integration[6], promoting youth entrepreneurship by creating special start-up offices in universities, and offering free consultancies to acquire the necessary legal knowledge to start a new business[7]

Efforts are also directed at ensuring that education provides students with the skills they need. The ‘vocationalisation’ of education[8] or on-the-job training programmes, implementing formal training pathways between secondary schools and the job market, and the strengthening of vocational education systems are increasingly promoted nowadays[9].


School-to-work transition measures should support students both before they acquire their first job and during their employment. Students should be prepared for professional life through the use of applied methods that offer the potential to secure a successful transition to their first job.