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From Dreams to Reality: Market Forces and Changes from Occupational Intention to Occupational Choice


  • Katharina Jaik

    (University of Bern & University of Zurich)

  • Stefan C. Wolter

    (University of Bern, CESifo & IZA)


This study empirically investigates whether the relationship between the fraction of filled apprenticeships in a particular occupation in the past and the fraction of prospective apprentices having very early intentions to train in this occupation has an impact on the decision to change the intended choice of occupation. We use a unique dataset from Switzerland containing detailed information on students’ early occupational ‘dreams’ (ages 13-14), before they undergo intensive career counselling, and combine it with information on their ultimate choice of occupation at the end of compulsory schooling (ages 15-16). The estimation results show that although the majority of students revise their initial intentions, those students who dreamed of learning an occupation with more training positions filled in previous years than peers interested in learning this occupation have a significantly higher probability of sticking to their initial dream occupation. Conversely, students who wished to train in an overly popular occupation have a higher probability of delaying the transition to upper-secondary education for at least one year, instead of switching to another occupation. In addition, we find on an aggregated level that a favourable situation on the apprenticeship market ultimately increases the premature contract termination rate due to a person-occupation-mismatch.

Suggested Citation

  • Katharina Jaik & Stefan C. Wolter, 2018. "From Dreams to Reality: Market Forces and Changes from Occupational Intention to Occupational Choice," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0149, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Oct 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0149

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jaik, Katharina & Wolter, Stefan C., 2016. "Lost in Transition: The Influence of Locus of Control on Delaying Educational Decisions," IZA Discussion Papers 10191, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Thomas Buser & Noemi Peter & Stefan C. Wolter, 2017. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Study Choices in High School: Evidence from Switzerland," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 125-130, May.
    3. Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe & Struewing, Cornelia, 2017. "Locus of control and performance appraisal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 205-225.
    4. Fitzenberger Bernd & Bonin Holger & Hillerich Annette, 2016. "Schule – Berufsausbildung – Arbeitsmarkt: Herausforderungen und Potenziale der ökonomischen Berufsbildungsforschung," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(3), pages 208-231, September.
    5. Barbara Mueller & Stefan Wolter, 2014. "The role of hard-to-obtain information on ability for the school-to-work transition," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 1447-1471, June.
    6. Thomas Buser & Noemi Peter & Stefan Wolter, 2017. "Gender, willingness to compete and career choices along the whole ability distribution," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0135, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
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    More about this item


    Occupational choice; educational intentions and decisions; school-to-work transition; upper-secondary education; imbalances on the apprenticeship market;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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