Dropout pathways and transitions after compulsory education

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© 2013, Ministry Education and Science. All rights reserved. This paper addresses the issue of school drop outs, based on recent research funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. The project analysed young people’s social integration and job placement based on the 2005 ETEFIL Survey (Survey on Transition, School, Training and Work Administered to Young People under 25) conducted by the Spanish National Statistics Office and Ministry of Education using a significant sample of young people (3,012 individuals who dropped out of compulsory school without earning a certificate). The survey made it possible to take a longitudinal, biographical approach to reconstructing the subjects’ pathways to education and work; this approach is characteristic of the research group’s theoretical and methodological perspective. First, an overview of the concept of dropping out is given. Next, drop-out pathways and the wide variety of profiles involved are subjected to diachronic analysis. The relationship between learning pathways and labour pathways is analyzed, and it is found that, for the labour market, a secondary certificates adds very little value to a job candidate’s qualifications. A quantitative approach is used to examine labour pathways, including mobility in the labour market. The conclusions include a comment about the predominance of low-skilled and unskilled jobs and the effect of the current economic situation on labour pathways in the medium and long term. Some reflections are shared concerning the Spanish educational system’s rigid response to dropouts who desire to go back to school and the challenge that compulsory education must meet to respond successfully to returning dropouts, who have very little opportunity of getting a second chance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-94
JournalRevista de Educacion
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Dropouts
  • Learning pathways and labour pathways
  • Transition from school to work

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