The Early Labour Market Effects of Generally and Vocationally Oriented Higher Education: Is There a Trade-Off?

34 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by Dieter Verhaest

Dieter Verhaest

Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUBrussel)

Stijn Baert

Ghent University; University of Antwerp; Catholic University of Louvain (UCL); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)


This study investigates whether the choice for a vocationally versus a generally oriented higher education program entails a trade-off between higher employment chances and better matches at the start of the career (when opting for a vocational orientation) and a lower risk of bad match persistence later on (when opting for a general orientation). We rely on detailed early career spell data of Flemish graduates and assess the vocational orientation of their program by means of the presence of curriculum-based work placement. We model the program choice (vocationally versus generally oriented), the transition to a good match and the preceding transition to a bad match simultaneously. To account for non-random selection into vocational programs and into bad matches, the Timing of Events method is combined with an exclusion restriction. After accounting for unobserved heterogeneity, we do not find any evidence for a trade-off early in the career. This result contributes to the debate about the efficiency of vocationalising tertiary education programs through the implementation of work placement.

Keywords: vocational education, academisation, work placement, mismatch, underemployment, overeducation

JEL Classification: I21, J24, J64, C21, C41

Suggested Citation

Verhaest, Dieter and Baert, Stijn, The Early Labour Market Effects of Generally and Vocationally Oriented Higher Education: Is There a Trade-Off?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9137. Available at SSRN:

Dieter Verhaest (Contact Author)

Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUBrussel) ( email )

Stormstraat 2
Brussels, 1000

Stijn Baert

Ghent University ( email )

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, Antwerp 2000

HOME PAGE: http://

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) ( email )

Place Montesquieu, 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348

HOME PAGE: http://

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072


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