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Factors for Success in the Vocational Education of At-Risk Adolescents

Background and aims

The planned project will investigate the personnel and systematic resources required to support adolescents with the successful transition from obligatory schooling to working life. The focus will centre upon weaker adolescents confronted with special difficulties during the process of vocational decision-making. "Success in Vocational Education" will be understood here as the securing of an apprenticeship training position (relative to the individual's capacities), perseverance in vocational training, successful completion of vocational training and successful occupational integration (stable occupational activity within the field of training).


The following points are to be verified: 1 What factors for success have proven relevant in the respective projects (safety factors, resilience)? 2 How are these factors currently supported? 3 What conclusions can be drawn for further applications?


In order to answer these questions, selected current Swiss studies and projects corresponding to point 1 (second priority point 2) are to be chosen and undergo targeted comparative analysis. Longitudinal analyses dealing with transitional problems, particularly with potentially at-risk adolescents (for example those with educational weaknesses or adverse familial circumstances), form the focal point. Moreover, the proposed project aims for cooperation with currently initiated cantonal projects (e.g. case management and mentoring), which promote the successful transitions from obligatory schooling to vocational training and working life. It is thus possible to utilise cantonal resources and facilitate inter-cantonal transparency with regard to existing measures.

Because the planned survey is a sub-project of the EDK project "Nahtstelle obligatorische Schule – Sekundarstufe II", optimal prerequisite conditions for the practical implementation of results already exist. Concrete recommendations and measures in the form of checklists and support for the promotion of success factors are to be extracted on the basis of a scientifically substantiated analysis. A central aim of this project is the development of parameters and recommendations and the coordination of their implementation to be mutually agreed upon at a conference. The resulting guiding principles are to be laid out in a "commitment" agreed upon by all relevant partners including federal and cantonal authorities, schools and organisations in the employment world.


The study contains important key structural influences such as demography, economic conditions, social areas, school structures and social background. However, the adolescent him/herself and his/her direct environment (family, teaching staff, people of his/her own age and advisors) are also of importance. Interaction between the various influences is discussed upon the theoretical basis of resilience and protection/risk factors. Basic competencies in resilience support, such as the ability to solve problems and self-efficacy beliefs, can be significantly promoted within an educational context. The study shows that in addition to the need for individual support of at-risk adolescents, adjustments in structural areas are also necessary.


  • Häfeli, K. & Schellenberg, C. (2009). Erfolgsfaktoren in der Berufsbildung bei gefährdeten Jugendlichen. Bern: Schweizerische Konferenz der Erziehungsdirektoren (EDK). External link: Reader Erfolgsfaktoren in der Berufsbildung to download 
  • Schellenberg, C., & Häfeli, K. (2009). Erfolgsfaktoren beim Übergang von der Schule ins Erwerbsleben bei Jugendlichen mit ungünstigen Startbedingungen. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik, 15(11-12), 31-37.



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