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Investigating educational issues across Europe (ACROSS Base)
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Method Comparison: Identifying the 'coupling coefficient' between two subsystems (TRANSLAM)
Description "In the field of education and labour market transitions, it is common practice to study just the initial transition from school to work, as if the link between the two subsystems were broken thereafter. In comparative work on the school-to-work transition, the identification of the strength, rigidity or flexibility of the link between the two subsystems becomes an important issue in its own right, since it critically determines the probability of successful transitions to the labour market and later success or integration into the labour market. Since public policies, and specifically labour market policies directed towards young labour market entrants, seek to influence this link, it is surprising that little effort has been devoted to testing hypotheses about the link between the two subsystems on the institutional level.
    Comparative studies need to identify the 'coupling coefficient' of the two subsystems for each country separately. They also need to ascertain whether this school-to-work transition is a once-in-a-lifetime event or whether multiple transitions are possible and do actually occur. In the 'coupled oscillator' model, the two subsystems exchange energy continuously, so that in a system with close to equal mass one subsystem reaches a point of apparent standstill while the other is at its maximum potential. If this is taken to represent the conversion of the impetus from initial education into labour market potential, it becomes clear that experience in the labour market will also stimulate investment in further training. If further training gives additional impetus to the entire system, and carries sufficient weight at a later point in time, then it will further stimulate labour market potential. Allowing for a country-specific time-lag structure, which is determined largely by the 'coupling coefficient' between the two subsystems, any positive impact on labour market transitions of a trend towards modularisation in the education and training subsystem should be measurable." (Schömann et al., 2002, p. 22)
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