While research on adolescent occupational expectations is voluminous, it either ignores students who do not report any career plans or imputes their answers. Consequently, little is known about the potential consequences that not having clear occupational expectations in adolescence might have for educational and occupational attainment in young adulthood. Therefore, this article presents evidence from the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (LSAY), which followed students between 2006 and 2016, to consider whether occupational uncertainty in this cohort is better understood as strategic role exploration or structured aimlessness. Uncertainty persists over time as students who do not report career plans at age 16 tend to be occupationally uncertain also seven years later. However, it is occupational uncertainty in young adulthood, not in adolescence, that better predicts the lack of university degree and lower expected life-time earnings at age 26.
Australian Journal of Education – SAGE
Published: Aug 1, 2018
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