Brotherhood of St Laurence

Conference paper presented at The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Conference. Social Causes, Private Lives (2010 : North Ryde, N.S.W.) SCHOOL TO WORK

Although the literature on educational plans and attainments of youth is comprehensive, less is known about the role which specific career choices, formed early in high school, may play in attaining high status professional occupations. This is mostly due to lack of longitudinal data, as rarely do high school students get asked about their plans and then, years later, about their actual jobs. However, the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth of students who were in Year 9 in 1998 do have the information on career plans of students and their later occupational attainment. Thus it is possible to compare early choices and the actual jobs held by LSAY respondents who were surveyed every year until 2008. This analysis focuses on the relative importance of individual plans versus family background and academic achievement in enabling Generation Y, as this cohort is known, to realise their early ambitions. I find that adolescent career plans are consequential even after plans to attend university and the actual university completion have been taken into account. This is important as clearly stopping at planning to go to university is not enough. Returns to early vocational ambitions are more evident for employment defined by respondents as 'career related'.


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