Navigating a 'zombie' system: youth transitions from vocational education in post-Soviet Russia
In recent years sociologists of youth have drawn attention to the growing disparity between the stated goals of education and labour market policies on the one hand, and the changing priorities, choices and experiences of young people on the other. This article explores a similar disparity in the transitions of young people graduating from vocational training (IVET) colleges in post-Soviet Russia. While the IVET system continues to attempt to foster an ideal-type transition from school to work, the quality of the jobs available to young people at the end of this transition has been vastly undermined by the collapse of the old Soviet economy. Rather than following straightforward transitions into industrial and agricultural enterprises, graduates of the IVET system are focused on the perceived opportunities available to them through the newly expanded further and higher education sectors. In this context, as in many Western countries, transitions from IVET colleges have become both 'destandardised' and 'individualised'; the young people in the research were taking individual responsibility for their labour market prospects by pursuing prolonged periods of combined work and part-time study. In exploring their experiences of transitions through emerging educational structures, however, the article identifies familiar disadvantages rooted in social background.
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