There is a inverse correlation between one's level of education and their risk of becoming unemployed or economically inactive, according to Varshavskaya. In other words, post-secondary education increases the chances of employment, while those who have worked their way through college or university are at a clear advantage in getting a decent job. In contrast, young people with just nine years of compulsory secondary school without any additional training face the highest risks of remaining unemployed for a long time.
On the other hand, the difficult economic situation in the country, combined with financial challenges faced by households and a few other factors, such as employers' preference for hiring people with relevant work experience, forced many students to work part-time or even full-time while studying, thus shifting their career start to an earlier age.
Varshavskaya's research is based on findings from the ILO's School-to-work Transition Survey (SWTS) conducted in 28 countries, including Russia, where it was included as part of Rosstat's employment survey and involved 11 regions – Bryansk, Volgograd, Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, Irkutsk, Novgorod, Rostov, Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk Regions, and the Republics of Bashkortostan and Dagestan. Out of the total sample of almost 3,900 people aged 15 to 29, a subsample of 2,254 was selected which included respondents who had completed their education or training before 2012 (the survey was conducted in July 2012).
Two indicators are particularly significant for studying work-to-school transition: employment status, i.e. whether or not a young person is employed within three, six or twelve months of completing their studies, and how long the school-to-work transition has taken them. The survey respondents differed in terms of employment status (employed, unemployed, economically inactive) and the level of education, ranging from the compulsory nine years of secondary school to higher education.
Varshavskaya found a stark contrast in the rates of employment between young people with just nine years of secondary school and their peers with post-secondary education: after six months of completing their studies, just over half (55.6%) of the former group were employed, in contrast to more than 80% of the latter group (regardless of the level of post-secondary education).
According to Varshavskaya, combining work and studies increases the likelihood of finding employment soon after graduation and minimizes the risks of unemployment for young people. University graduates have the greatest advantage, and working while studying further increases their chances of finding employment by almost 12 p.p. (93.5% vs. 81.8%), while the chances of this group staying unemployed or economically inactive stand at 2.8% and 3.7%, respectively.
Varshavskaya found a gender gap in the rates of employment, with women facing lower chances of employment and higher chances of economic inactivity – the latter by almost 1.7 times (13.8% vs. 8.2%).
However, the higher the education level, the less difference between men’s and women's status in the labour market. In the group with compulsory schooling only, the gender gap in employment rates stands at 28 p.p. – 64% for men and 36% for women. As education levels go up, the gender disparity goes down, with 86% of men and nearly 83% of women with vocational training being employed.
Just over a third (36%) of young women with no education beyond secondary school are employed. According to Varshavskaya, "Almost half of them (47.2%) are economically inactive and one in six (16.7%) are unemployed." This may be due not only to their levels of knowledge and skills, but also to their reproductive behaviour, as women in this social group tend to have children earlier and thus do not enter the labour market.
Another key characteristic of the school-to-work transition is its duration, based on which the respondents fall into two groups:
As a result, the average duration of school-to-work transition stood at nine months – or eleven months, if 'zero-time transitions' are excluded.
People with the lowest education levels tend to have the longest transitions, while those with higher education enjoy the shortest transitions from school to work.
The steeper the curve, the faster young people with the corresponding level of education find jobs. Three months after completing a university course, 75% of the graduates were in employment, in contrast with just 40.7% (marked in light blue) of those with compulsory schooling only. Between these two extremes are young people with secondary vocational training (63.4% in employment after three months, marked in red) and basic vocational training (56.2%, marked in green). "Each successive level of education tends to shorten the school-to-work transition by 2 to 4 months," according to Varshavskaya.
Young people with no education beyond secondary school experience the longest time lag between finishing school and finding employment; nearly half of them (43.6%) find jobs more than a year after school, and 29.6% take more than two years – almost twice the average – to become employed.
Urban youth tend to find jobs earlier than their peers in the countryside, as urban labour markets are usually more expansive and diversified.
Interestingly, men often take longer to get employed than women – perhaps due to salary expectations, which are lower in women than in men, who therefore spend some more time shopping around for higher pay.