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Career competencies in the transition from higher education to the labor market: Examining developmental trajectories
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF6.065),  Pub Date : 2021-06-07, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103602
Ilke Grosemans, Nele De Cuyper

Career competencies refer to knowledge and skills central to career development. They are particularly important at the start of the career, as early-career choices can have an impact on career outcomes in the longer term. Building on Conservation of Resources (COR) Theory, this study sets out to investigate (1) how career competencies on average change in the transition from higher education to the labor market, (2) whether there are different trajectories (3) connected to labor market experiences. Results are based on a sample of 1180 young adults at five time points, spanning their final year of higher education and the first 10 months at the labor market. Data were analyzed using latent growth curve and latent growth class analyses. Results demonstrated that (1) career competencies on average increased during education and remained stable after labor market entrance: Our interpretation along COR theory is that the transition triggers investment in career competencies and that excess resources are then stalled. (2) Three profiles of change in career competencies were identified, described according to their starting values and change pattern after graduation: high-stable, medium-steadily increasing, and low-late increasing. (3) Individuals in the high-stable profile reported higher education-job fit, whereas individuals in the low-late increasing profile were less likely to be employed four months after graduation. Hence, by including multiple time points, by accounting for within-person dynamics and by taking two contexts (education and labor market) into account, this study was able to increase understanding of change in resources in transition periods.