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The role of parents in vocational integration

Background and aims

A secondary analysis based on HfH research projects

The transition from school to employment is often difficult for young people with special needs. It calls for professional support, but private social networks are also very important. The role played by parents is especially significant here. They help to determine how young people tackle the requirements of choosing an occupation (Kracke & Noack, 2005; Neuenschwander & Garre, 2008), and their attitudes will influence the motivation and work ethics of the new employee (Diemer, 2007; Neuenschwander, 2014). In practice, teachers and training providers do not always manage to involve parents adequately in the process of vocational integration (Lanfranchi & Sempert, 2012; Schellenberg & Hofmann, 2013). For a better comprehension of the reasons for this, it is important to study the perceptions and (re-)actions of parents in greater depth. This secondary analysis will therefore serve to evaluate data from various HfH projects relating to the transition from school to employment in a systematic, non-project-specific manner.


  • How do parents perceive their children’s transition from school to employment? What role do they define for themselves during this period?
  • How do parents describe their collaboration with professional support staff? What do they find helpful? What hurdles and barriers do they perceive?
  • How do young people and others involved (e.g. teachers, workplace instructors) see the role of parents?
  • What reasons might there be for problems and what conditions are most conducive to collaboration between parents and professional support staff?


There are altogether seven HfH research projects which can provide data for a secondary analysis. The views of parents were taken directly into account in the projects Career Choice Preparation for Adolescents with a Disability or Impairment (B19), FiB in the Education Region Central Switzerland (B20), and Evaluation of the ‘Ithaka’ Mentoring Programme (B14), i.e. a parent was interviewed face-to-face or over the telephone. This data will provide the principal source for secondary analysis, and its relevance to the above questions will be evaluated in greater depth by applying a grounded theory procedure. The interviews with other parties involved (teachers, workplace instructors, careers advisors, young people/pupils concerned) and findings from the final reports of these projects will also be tapped for the analysis.


There is by and large a lack of research projects specifically addressing the role played by the parents of pupils or trainees with special support needs during the phase of vocational integration, and those that do exist tend to neglect the subjective standpoint of parents, although this is presumably a decisive factor in the dynamics of collaboration between parents and professional support staff. The secondary analysis is intended to encourage reflection about collaboration with parents and where possible to optimise it.


  • Diemer, M. A. (2007). Parental and school influences upon the career development of poor youth of color. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 70, 502–524.
  • Kracke, B., & Noack, P. (2005). Die Rolle der Eltern für die Berufsorientierung von Jugendlichen. In B. H. Schuster, H.-P. Kuhn & H. Uhlendorff (Eds.), Entwicklung in sozialen Beziehungen. Heranwachsende in ihrer Auseinandersetzung mit Familie, Freunden und Gesellschaft (pp. 169-193). Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius.
  • Lanfranchi, A. & Sempert, W. (2012). Wirkung frühkindlicher Betreuung auf den Schulerfolg. Follow-up der Studie „Schulerfolg von Migrationskindern“. Bern: Edition SZH
  • Neuenschwander, M. P. (2014). Selektion beim Übergang in die Sekundarstufe I und in den Arbeitsmarkt im Vergleich. In M. P. Neuenschwander (Ed.), Selektion in Schule und Arbeitsmarkt. Zürich/Chur: Rüegger Verlag.
  • Neuenschwander, M. P., & Garre, J. L. (2008). Causes and Consequences of unexpected eductional transitions in Switzerland. Journal of Social Issues, 64(1), 41-57.
  • Schellenberg, C. & Hofmann, C. (2013). Fit für die Berufslehre! Forschungsbericht zur Berufswahlvorbereitung an der Schule bei Jugendlichen mit besonderem Förderbedarf. Bern: SZH-Verlag.



Project Management

Dr. phil.  Hofmann



Forschung und Entwicklung
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