Predictors of a Protean Career Orientation and Vocational Training Enrollment in the Post-School Transition
The post-school transition is a critical transition for adolescents and understanding when and how it results in beneficial outcomes is a pressing issue. We integrate career construction theory and social cognitive career theory and investigate a sequential model of predictors and outcomes at various stages in the post-school transition process. We focus on a protean career orientation as an important subjective transition outcome and whether adolescents continue with high school or vocational education and training (VET) as an important objective transition outcome. We propose that personal and contextual socio-cognitive factors during school (i.e., occupational self-efficacy beliefs and perceived career barriers) relate to the transition outcomes indirectly through their effects on vocational identity clarity. We tested our hypotheses among a sample of 819 Swiss adolescents, based on a time- lagged study with three waves over a period of three years. Results of structural equation modeling showed that occupational self-efficacy beliefs positively, and perceived career barriers negatively related to vocational identity clarity. A clear vocational identity in turn predicted a higher probability of VET enrollment compared to high school enrollment after school. Unexpectedly, a clearer vocational identity related to a weaker protean career orientation. Implications for post-school transition research and the protean career literature are discussed.