En resa med osäkra mål : Unga vuxnas övergångar från skola till arbete i ett biografiskt perspektiv

Sammanfattning: School-to-work (STW) transitions have become more protracted over recent decades, with increased risks of unemployment and social exclusion for young people. Moreover, young people are expected to plan their own career and enhance their employa­bility, although gender and social and cultural background still significantly influence employment prospects. Policies have been developed in an attempt to facilitate young people’s pathways into work. However, STW-transitions are one of the weakest poin­ts in Swedish welfare system; in addition the quality of career guidance has been questioned. This dissertation aims to describe and analyse young adults STW-transitions from a biographical perspective. It is based around life story interviews with 52 unem­ployed young adults’, 25-29 years old, including men and women with varying educa­tional backgrounds, living in three different Swedish local contexts. Four research questions are examined: How do the young adults’ describe their STW-transitions in retrospect? What characterized their horizons of actions at the time of the interview? What is the impact of public career guidance? How did ethnicity, gender and locality affect answers to the above questions - and how may such differences be interpreted? The analysis of the young adults’ narratives was based on the careership theory devel­oped by Hodkinson and Sparkes. In retrospect the young adults described their STW-transitions as an attempt to find and achieve personal goals. They emphasized turning points, i.e. when educa­tion or a job begins or ends, but also highlighted experiences when studying or working that make them realize what they wanted or what they would not accept. Four transition patterns, partly connected to gender and locality, were identified among the respondents: yo-yoing between workplaces, education and unemploy­ment; mainly working; mainly in education; or mainly excluded from work and education. These patterns involved varying experiences, current situations and future expectations. At the time of the interview the young adults’ horizon of action involved interrelated aspects of life, but getting a stable job and settling down was pivotal to most of them. The strategies of the interviewees for navigating between dreams and reality diverged. However, they shared an ambition “to put one’s talents to good use” and feared not being able to do so. Experiences of career guidance were generally reported to have been sporadic and meaningless. However, in some cases, inter­ventions are influential for example, when choosing an upper secondary school or during times of unemployment. The young adults’ employed various strategies when interventions adversely affected their goals; of these “to managing by one’s self” was the most common. In addition, guidance varied according to ethnicity and local structures. It is concluded that STW-transitions are challenging journeys, mainly undertaken without professional support, which the young adults perceived as uncertain.