Changing labour market conditions affect individuals’ life courses. More and more people have to face career interruptions and changes, especially during an economic crisis. Coping with instability and insecurity in life as well as with career and life changes requires specific adaptability skills as well as lifelong learning. Public policy works towards shortening unemployment spells and reduce the risk of dead-end careers, floundering periods and burn-outs. Therefore lifelong learning and effective career guidance must be supported. This project line focuses on understanding better how individuals experience career transitions to develop effective policies – in particular for adult learning and career guidance - that can support citizens and prepare them for long and successful careers.

(a) The study ‘Learning for career and labour market transitions – Individual Biographies’ investigated how learning can support workers’ transition in the labour market. The 125 biographies collected in Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain and France generated a deep understanding of the dimensions underlying individual approaches to career transitions and learning. The results of the project point to the need for a variety of policy measures in support of individuals’ career transitions and to the critical importance of career guidance and counselling.

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(b) The study ‘Narratives of career/labour market related learning of low-skilled workers’ concerns the question how low-educated / low-skilled workers with a poor socio-economic background think about education and continuous learning. 105 biographies collected in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Italy, France, Czech Republic and Poland illustrate what being ‘low-skilled’ means in these countries. The results bring out attitudes, aspirations and expectations towards learning in different contexts. They uncover how adult and work-based learning can help people develop their potential, re-engage in learning and become socially upwardly mobile.

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(c) The research on ‘Labour market mobility and skill mismatch in EU labour markets’ aims at documenting patterns of occupational change and other types of labour market transitions in Europe using an homogeneous EU panel data set (EU-SILC). The project investigates the relationship between types of labour market mobility and skill mismatch and how these are related to individuals’ skill developments.

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Giovanni Russo