Vocational Education and Labour Market

The research  (FGI and IDI) conducted by KARAT on women aged 20-34 in Kielce, Olsztyn, Siedlce and Warsaw and the analysis of statistical data on education.

 The research includes a unique gender analysis of vocational education and the labor market showing numerous barriers for women in access to professions.

Vocational education was chosen by over half of the youth (54%): 32% post-gymnasium students  chose the basic vocational schools and 68% chose the secondary vocational schools (2013/2014). The educational choices of girls and boys differ a lot. 66% of boys choose to learn a profession in the vocational schools, and 56.5% of girls choose the general education in the high schools. In the context of the current demand for certain occupations on the labor market, the adopted model of education, especially the choice of girls to go to the high schools , should be considered problematic. Graduating from a high school a girl has a much lower chances of finding a job ( a working activity by almost 8 percentage points lower) than if she graduates from  a vocational school.

The largest occupational segregation occurs in basic vocational education. Not only is it dominated by boys (72%) but there is also a clear gender division in particular fields of study, for example, only 0.4% of girls studies the architecture and construction.  The main barrier in girls’ taking up education in “male” professions is the fear of losing femininity and the consequences of this fact. There is also a widespread belief that it will be difficult for a woman trained in a traditionally man’s profession  to find a job. This was confirmed in the interviews of women with technical education.

In the labor market, the situation of women with basic vocational education is much more difficult than the men with this level of education. It is harder for the women to find a job in a professions they were trained with a decent salary. There is many more job offers in professions performed by men and they are better paid. Worse situation of women also results from the fact that they are perceived through the prism of a motherhood – as mothers of small children or potential mothers – and their employment is considered to be risky.

The next factors determining the situation of women in the labor market and affecting their low self-esteem are the stereotypical image of women with basic vocational education, as not ambitious, from poor families and who do not want to learn. This harmful stereotype concerns women to a greater extent than men whose professions enjoy greater social prestige.

It is therefore necessary to carry out a series of social campaigns to change the society’s traditional belief about the occupations appropriate for women and those good for men. It would make it easier for girls to undertake education in male professions.

You can find more about this problem in our report “Vocational Schools and the Laboru Market for Women with Basic Vocational Education”