Abstract: This article addresses inequalities in short‐ and medium‐term career outcomes of workers with different vocational education and training (VET) programmes during the early career. In particular, we examine how the degree of vocational specificity of VET programmes affects occupational status mobility throughout individuals’ early careers, a topic that has hitherto received little attention. We adopt a life course perspective and combine an individual‐level theoretical approach (human capital and signalling theory) with an institutional approach. The former focuses on individuals’ skill acquisition during VET and across the early career. The latter emphasises that individuals’ allocation to a training programme influences the amount and types of skills they acquire. The multinomial logistic regression analyses are based on a combination of detailed curricula‐based occupation‐level data on the specificity of training programmes and individual‐level data from the Transitions From Education to Employment (TREE) longitudinal dataset. The results show, firstly, that labour market allocation at the beginning of a career has consequences for later labour market outcomes. Second, practical occupation‐specific education and training facilitate status stability at labour market entry, while general skills and knowledge are decisive for long‐term upward mobility.
Keywords: dual training; general knowledge; occupation‐specific skills; returns to education; vertical mobility; vocational education and training