Grass roots of occupational change: Understanding mobility in vocational careers

Medici, G.; Tschopp, C.; Grote, G.; Hirschi, Andreas (2020). Grass roots of occupational change: Understanding mobility in vocational careers. Journal of vocational behavior, 122, p. 103480. Academic Press 10.1016/j.jvb.2020.103480

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Most prior research on career mobility has focused on people changing jobs and organizations. We know little about processes involved in individuals changing occupations, although these changes cause high individual, organizational, and public costs. Moreover, occupations are increasingly acknowledged as important anchors in times of more boundaryless careers. The current study investigates the impact of early satisfaction with the trained occupation (VET satisfaction) on occupational change by analyzing 10-year longitudinal panel data gathered in Switzerland (N = 905). Results from regression analyses showed that VET satisfaction predicted occupational change up to ten years after graduation. VET satisfaction in turn was affected by work characteristics experienced during VET, and VET satisfaction mediated the relationship between work characteristics during VET and occupational change. Using a subsample (N=464)
for which data were available on jobs taken up after graduation, we showed that VET satisfaction explained occupational change over and above work satisfaction in jobs held after graduation, highlighting the formative role of early experience during VET. Our findings inform both theory and practice. To fully comprehend occupational change, established turnover models also need to reflect on early formative vocational experiences. Firms should pay attention to favorable work characteristics already during VET and adjust adverse conditions to reduce undesired occupational mobility.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Work and Organisational Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Hirschi, Andreas


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Academic Press




Christine Soltermann

Date Deposited:

02 Mar 2021 15:34

Last Modified:

13 Mar 2021 19:27

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Vocational education and training (VET) Occupational change Work design Work characteristics Work satisfaction




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