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Browsing by Author "Pulkkinen, Emma"

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  • Pulkkinen, Emma (2016)
    This thesis looks at the development of young Finns’ confidence in education between 1999 and 2013. The purpose of the thesis is to explore how economic turbulence in the form of booms and busts affects young people’s perceptions of the link between education and employability. The starting point of this research is the rapid expansion of education in Finland and its effects on the labour market. The average educational level of Finns has increased dramatically in a short period of time. Educational expansion has not only resulted in a better educated population, but has also had its effects on unemployment levels of the highly educated, as well as the number of individuals who are over-educated for their jobs. When the supply of educated labour has come to exceed the demand for it, education no longer guarantees a job, but is increasingly necessary to better position oneself on the labour market. Previous research in the field has largely focused on the link between educational credentials and employability, as well as youth transitions from education to the labour market. Such transitions from education to employment are often aided by work experience acquired during one’s studies. Furthermore, while education alone may no longer be enough for a smooth transition, those young people with higher levels of education are still better off than their less educated counterparts. This thesis will focus more on young people’s own perceptions of the relationship between education and employability rather than observing their school to work transitions. While youth expectations of the labour market are increasingly researched, this thesis offers a new perspective by introducing the concept of ’confidence in education’. Young people’s confidence in education is still very much under researched in the sociology of education as well as sociology of work. The data utilised in this study is a collection of Finnish Youth Barometers from 1999 (N=1251), 2007 (N=1903), and 2013 (N=1903). The Finnish Youth Barometer is an annual survey that collects data on young people’s attitudes and values. This research will utilise two survey questions regarding young people’s confidence in education. The aim of this thesis is to see if there are differences in how young people have responded to these questions in 1999, 2007, and 2013. In addition to the development of young people’s confidence in education over time, this thesis will also look at how one’s confidence level in education may depend on their age or primary activity. The methods include descriptive statistics for the chosen variables as well as the Kruskal-Wallis test, which is used to analyse between group differences. Results show that young Finns’ confidence in education follows the development of the Finnish economy. While confidence in education has remained at a high level between 1999 and 2013, there seem to be clear differences in the level of confidence when comparing times reflecting economic busts (1999 and 2013) with a time of economic prosperity (2007). Furthermore, there are also observable differences between young people in education and those who are in employment. Confidence in education is higher among young people who are still in education when compared to those in employment. This is reinforced by the result that confidence in education is higher among the younger age groups than the older ones; the younger age groups are more likely to still be in education, while the individuals in the older age groups are more likely to have already acquired some work experience. These results show that confidence in education is linked to developments in the economy: young Finns had higher confidence in education during the economic busts of the 1990s and the most recent economic and financial crisis that started in 2008. The fact that confidence in education is higher in times of economic turmoil signals that the value of education has not decreased as the average educational level has increased. In fact, education seems to maintain its value, especially during bad times. Educational credentials give an individual a competitive advantage in an overcrowded labour market where supply of labour exceeds demand. In addition, the fact that confidence levels are lower among those young people who are either already in employment, or have more likely already had work experience, signals that experienced realities of the labour market may not match with previous beliefs that education better’s one’s employability. More research is needed to better examine the reasons why confidence in education diminishes as a young person ages.