|The Transition of Youth from School to Work: Issues and Policies (IIEP, 2000, 188 p.)|
|Chapter I. From initial education to working life: making transition work by Marianne Durand-Drouhin and Richard Sweet|
Countries that consistently achieve good transition outcomes are characterized by strong institutional frameworks to support the transition, normally developed over an extensive period. The nature of these institutions can vary widely: from Japan's tightly-woven links between schools and individual firms to lay down clear ground rules for school leaver recruitment; to the vocational education and training systems that have a strong industry involvement that characterize the apprenticeship and quasi-apprenticeship countries. Such institutional frameworks appear to be most effective when they are able to combine central regulation with local flexibility.
Effective policy processes are needed to support effective transition institutions. Effective policy implementation needs to be given as much attention as policy design. The involvement of key stakeholders in the ongoing management of transition frameworks, not simply in their design, is important. National and local, bottom-up and top-down approaches need to be balanced. Effective transition policy implementation requires learning to be built in as a key feature. Monitoring and evaluation, the deliberate use of pilot projects, and using successful local initiatives as a model for wider policies and programmes are ways in which this can be done. Coherent policy development also requires attention to be paid to the resources needed to bring new frameworks into effect. These include financial resources, human resources, and physical and capital resources. Comprehensive reforms are to be preferred to isolated and piecemeal reforms.
Sound transition outcomes also require effective personal relationships between the key parties, as well as good relationships between representative organizations. These help to improve the quality of information sharing, to build mutual obligations, and to promote trust and sharing. Better local tracking of the destinations of school leavers, and feedback of the results of such tracking to school systems and the local community, can be an important way of building local networking and information sharing in support of the transition.
Many countries are trying to encourage local partnerships between educational institutions, employers and communities as a way of strengthening these relationships and improving the transition. This can be observed particularly where the organized involvement of employers and trade unions in education and training has traditionally been weak. In many instances these partnerships have formed spontaneously at the local level in response to locally perceived needs. Such partnerships can be a way to marshal employer support for and involvement in career education programmes, and to extend opportunities for work placements and contextual and applied learning. Effective partnerships require adequate resourcing by educational institutions; they work best when both employers and schools obtain benefits; and they require genuine shared ownership, not just token consultation. Building and maintaining local partnerships is easiest when they are supported by a strong institutional framework, on the part of both employer organizations and school systems.
A related trend has been for governments to stimulate the creation of intermediary bodies to act as brokers between educational institutions and employers in order to improve the transition. These can benefit young people by spreading training over a wider number of firms, thus both extending the breadth of training and experience and widening the network of firms providing training. They can assist firms through their recruitment expertise and young people through their specialized labour market knowledge. It is, however, important not to over-complicate such partnerships, and to ensure that they do not have competing and poorly co-ordinated roles. Governments have an important role to play in monitoring the impact of partnerships and intermediary bodies and in helping to ensure that quality outcomes are achieved by them.