Lectio Magistralis - Prof. Heike Solga
Venue: Department of Sociology and Social Research, via Verdi 26 - Trento, Aula Kessler
- Prof. Dr. Heike Solga - WZB - Berlin Social Science Center
The role of noncognitive skills for school-to-work transitions in Germany
Scholars in sociology as well as economics have shown the importance of cognition and behavior in determining socioeconomic achievement. They agree that both cognitive and noncognitive skills influence labor market outcomes. Much less is known, however, about how and for whom they affect labor market outcomes. This lecture provides theoretical and empirical insights into these latter issues, based on the example of access to apprenticeship programs, which serve as entry labor market positions in Germany.
On the supply sides, higher cognitive and noncognitive skills might influence individual job search behavior. For the demand side, we know that employers make hiring decisions under uncertainty by searching for applicants with higher productivity. They might therefore not only use signals of cognitive skills but also of noncognitive skills as screens for trainability and productivity. Most previous studies estimated the supply-demand-side combined effects of cognitive and noncognitive skills on labor market outcomes. In this lecture, we will examine the processes on each side separately. Moreover, we will compare school leavers with different levels of formal qualification at the end of general schooling. In doing so, we are able to answer the question for whom noncognitive skills affects training chances-contributing to our understanding of whether the role of individual skills depends on one’s level of formal qualification, and why.
Heike Solga is director of the research unit “Skill Formation and Labor market” at the WZB – Berlin Social Science Center and full professor for Sociology at the Free University Berlin. Her research interests are sociology of education, labor market research, and life course research. She was the chairwoman of the scientific advisory board of the PIAAC study for Germany. She is involved in the German National Education Panel Study (NEPS), responsible for vocational education and training and entry into the labor market. She has published more than 45 peer-reviewed journal articles and several books, among them are: Skill Formation – Interdisciplinary and Cross-National Perspectives” (Cambridge University Press, 2008, edited together with Karl Ulrich Mayer), School-to-Work Transitions across Time and Place: Patterns, Socioeconomic Achievement, and Parenthood (Special Issue “Research in Social Stratification and Mobility”, 2016, edited together with Marlis Buchmann), Persistent Disadvantages or New Opportunities? The Role of Agency and Structural Constraints for Low-Achieving Adolescents’ School-to-Work Transitions (Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2017, together with Anne-Christine Holtmann and Laura Menze), Applying to college: Do information deficits lower the likelihood of college-eligible students from less-privileged families to pursue their college intentions? (Social Science Research, 2017, together with Martin Ehlert, Claudia Finger and Alessandra Rusconi), Secondary education systems and the general skills of less- and intermediate-educated adults: A comparison of 18 countries (Sociology of Education, 2015, together with Jan P. Heisig, Jan Paul), How employers use signals of cognitive and noncognitive skills at labor market entry. Insights from field experiments (European Sociological Review, 2015, together with Paula Protsch), Stigmatization by negative selection’: Explaining less-educated persons’ decreasing employment opportunities (European Sociological Review, 2002). Her current research projects are on school-to-work transitions of less-educated youth; patterns and differences of NEETS in international perspective; variation in employment opportunities of low-skilled workers; information asymmetries and educational decisions; education as social policy.