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School Job Placement: Can It Avoid Reproducing Social Inequalities?

by Julie E. Redline & James E. Rosenbaum - 2010

Background: Labor market entry is difficult for two-year college graduates. Job search literature focuses on personal connections, but disadvantaged students often lack useful contacts. Moreover, employers often don’t recognize and value two-year college credentials as much as bachelor’s degrees. Teacher contacts could help, but studies find that they can be biased against low achievers and minorities. Institutional school placement programs, which have the potential to reduce inequalities and help disadvantaged students in job search, have rarely been studied in the United States.

Research Question: How does schoolwide institutional job placement operate in a private two-year college with a highly developed program, and is it successful and equitable?

Research Design: This study uses a mixed-methods approach, including a qualitative case study and quantitative analysis of a single college’s administrative records.

Findings: We find that this college created institutional job links that are different from other programs studied in the United States. It equitably serves most students and is unrelated to achievement or race. Although it does not improve students’ postcollege earnings, it does improve the skill relevance of participants’ postcollege jobs, which is a potentially important indicator of long-term success. Black and Hispanic students who use the program have earnings advantages over Whites, but this is not true for those who find jobs on their own.

Conclusions: Job placement can and does occur in two-year colleges in the United States. When programs are institutional rather than based on personal teacher contacts, they can serve students equitably and potentially reduce preexisting social inequalities. Colleges can effectively do job matching between the labor market and their students’ qualifications. In so doing, they can provide useful recommendations to employers and place students in skill-relevant jobs.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 3, 2010, p. 843-875
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15891, Date Accessed: 1/20/2021 11:48:09 PM

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About the Author
  • Julie Redline
    Northwestern University
    JULIE REDLINE (B.S. social policy, Northwestern University) is currently studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science and expects to complete a M.P.A. in public policy and management in June 2010. She was a research coordinator at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research while the research presented in this article was carried out. Her research interests include K-12 urban education, college access and choice, and job preparation.
  • James Rosenbaum
    Northwestern University
    JAMES E. ROSENBAUM (B.A. Yale, Ph.D. Harvard) is professor of sociology, education, and social policy at Northwestern University. He is on the advisory panel for the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education. His books include Crossing the Class and Color Lines (University of Chicago Press, 2000) and Beyond College for All (Russell Sage Foundation, 2001), which was awarded the Waller Prize in Sociology. His book, After Admission: From College Access to College Success, is a study of community colleges published in 2006.
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