We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

The early labour-market returns to upper secondary qualifications track in England

Capsada-Munsech, Queralt and Boliver, Vikki (2021) 'The early labour-market returns to upper secondary qualifications track in England.', Longitudinal and Life Course Studies .


We explore the early labour-market returns to following the academic track (such as A levels) rather than the vocational track (for example, NVQs) in upper secondary education in England. England is an interesting country case because students are ‘free to choose’ which upper secondary track they follow, unlike to many other European countries where standardised tests and teachers’ recommendations play a much larger role. We draw on data from the longitudinal survey Next Steps and register data from the National Pupil Database. We consider occupational social class and net disposable income at age 25 as early labour-market outcomes to explore to what extent the upper secondary qualification track has a net influence on them, controlling for pre-track measured ability, relevant socio-demographic characteristics and higher education participation. Our results show that following the academic track in upper secondary education is associated with higher chances of being employed in a service class occupation at age 25, compared to those with vocational upper secondary qualifications or no upper secondary qualifications at all. Subsequent participation in (prestigious) universities further improves the chances of service class membership. Interestingly, there does not seem to be a differentiated effect of following the academic rather than the vocational track by socio-economic status, except for those that did not subsequently attend university. Unlike access to service class occupations, we find no net effect of upper secondary track on disposable income at age 25 after controlling for prior attainment at GCSE and subsequent participation in higher education.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:18 February 2021
Date deposited:26 February 2021
Date of first online publication:18 January 2021
Date first made open access:26 February 2021

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar