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How Is Education–Job Match Related to Students’ Future Incomes?

How Is Education–Job Match Related to Students’ Future Incomes?

Experts at the IOE Center for Vocational Education & Skills have joined forced with their colleagues at the HSE Laboratory for Labor Market Studies to demonstrate how the link between education and early work experiences of Russian students modifies their future careers and pay. The paper is featured in the latest issue of the ‘Education + Training’ academic journal by Emerald Publishing (UK).

Combining work and study is a common practice among university and vocational students in Russia.

Considerations behind choosing to start a job while still training for professional credentials vary widely. These decisions are prompted by such factors as the need to provide for oneself, seeking to contribute to the family’s financial security, obtaining an extra source of income, a desire to get more hands-on exposure as an added asset that favors advancement in career, and others. Yet, areas where students choose to work are often barely matched or even utterly unrelated to their specialization.

The HSE researchers have conducted a multifaceted statistical analysis so they could gauge how students’ experiences juggling work and study are linked with their future professional achievements and pay. The study uses data from the Russian Federal State Statistics Service about salaries of 36 thousand graduates in programs of higher and vocational education.

The results testify that early work experiences within one’s field of major are positively correlated with career outlooks and future pay at all levels of training for both university and vocational students. Yet, if balancing study with work benefits future returns of enrollees in university programs regardless of the job area, then employment outside one’s major produces a downside effect on financial prospects of students at vocational schools. This is most likely attributable to the nature of market demand in the domain of blue-collar labor, where a strong linkage exists between the amount of specialist experience, employer interest, and wage level.

The researchers reckon that vocational enrollees who work in jobs that are closely matched to their credentials may receive up to twice as much in future marginal incomes as their counterparts whose careers are outside their major.  

Programs of vocational training in Russia are more likely to enroll students from lower-status families with limited means, and there is a clear need to foster and expand enterprise–VET cooperation so we can leverage opportunities for undergraduates to build rewarding careers in accordance with their qualifications. In particular, it is crucial to promote modern VET curriculum and instructional models that emphasize dual education, hands-on industry internships, etc.