Crucial components in successfully mastering the transition into work – Patterns of coping

Anette Schumacher, Daniel Weis

Research issue:
Sociological and psychological theories (Hurrelmann & Quenzel, 2012; Havighurst, 1972) consider a successfully accomplishing of certain developmental task as master challenge of youth. Regarding the economic situation, the transition into work is nowadays a big issue for young people. As a result of social liberalisation and individualisation, developmental tasks and social roles can be more individually chosen and shaped, offering both advantages (more personal freedom) and disadvantages (greater personal responsibility, less strong orientation). How do the Luxembourgish youth of today handle the transition into work in the light of the above and what are the crucial components in successfully mastering the transition into work?

Research questions:
Our interests are related to the speed, the time and the degree of success of the transition and the coping strategies behind. In what way transition into work is influenced by gender, nationality/migration status and level of education? What are the varying processes, rationales and patterns for accomplishing the transition into work? And what is the role of support services for young people facing problems during the transition?

Context and data:
The research is based on various data sources. A secondary data analyses was used to a systematic description of young people differentiated by age, level of education and nationality/migration status with regard to transition markers. We devote particular attention to the participation of the young people themselves as experts in our research methods. 77 guideline-based interviews with young people were used to collect subjective information about their coping strategies to accomplish the transition into work. A standardized survey of participants in support services focused on their experiences and their learning outcomes was filled out by 1162 young persons. Experts from academia, professional practice, administration and politics together with representatives of young people participated in 11 focus group discussions. The triangulation of different methodical approaches and different data sources resulted in a broad and multi-perspective representation of young people’s transition into adulthood.

Main results:
1) There is a big influence of the educational qualifications, the migration status and family support. For adolescents with average or high educational qualifications the transition into adulthood is easier (less frequently unemployed, find jobs matching their qualifications, more permanent employment contracts). Young people with poor school leaving qualifications face considerable difficulty with the transition into work. An analysis differentiating levels of education by migration background and nationality shows large differences. The data also demonstrates in particular the important supporting role played by the family (financial or emotional, acting as a role model, providing information or informal knowledge, or access to networks).

2) Furthermore our study identified widely varying processes, rationales and patterns for accomplishing the transition. Four types of transition could be identified (direct transition, alternative transition, transition requiring support and failed transition), distinguished by the different strategies for action, values, perspectives and attitudes.

3) The results of the survey indicate some subjective benefit of support service participation, but also potential for improvement.


Schumacher, A. & Weis, D. (2016). Crucial components in successfully mastering the transition into work – Patterns of coping. European Association for Research on Adolescence (EARA). XV Biennial Conference of the European Association for Research on Adolescence (EARA), La Barossa.




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