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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