chapter  5
21 Pages

Virtual transitions: from „inheritance‟ to individualization

I: What do you think about your parents‟ lives, their jobs? R: To live in a dying town, where wages are never higher than 5 or 6000, no, it‟s not right somehow. You‟re just wasting yourself. Living from wage packet to wage packet, no, I‟m not striving for that, for the way my parents live. I want the opposite. I want to realize myself, so that my life is much, much better. (Ivan [PU14], 21, Machine worker)


The previous chapter outlined the operation of a system which continues to be

built on the notion of an „ideal type‟ transition from school to factory. In the present chapter, focus shifts from the institutional to the individual level, and

thus to the ways in which transitions are both experienced and negotiated by

young people themselves. In reality, the possibility of making the straightfor-

ward school-to-work transition the IVET system attempts to foster was funda-

mentally undermined by the poor quality of the jobs available. Low or unpaid

wages, poor working conditions and periods of unpaid leave were all familiar to

those who had graduated from the system within the past few years, while finalyear students were also well aware of the nature of the jobs awaiting them in

state and former state enterprises. Thus, while a minority of the young people in

the research followed these transitions, the plans of the majority of respondents

centred on overcoming the poverty of opportunity available to them in the

labour market through the acquisition of further qualifications. As such, jobs

acquired either through institutional trudoustroistvo or independently tended to

be viewed instrumentally, as part of longer-term strategies in which education

and work were combined. Within this, the strategies constructed by the respon-

dents had a number of aims. While some of those pursuing further education did

so to improve their prospects in industry, others were attempting to carve out

different opportunities in new and more attractive spheres, particularly in the service sector. This diversity of responses was also apparent amongst those who

were unable or chose not to continue studying. Such respondents were neither

universally opting for jobs in the informal economy or new private sector, nor

simply „waiting for better times‟. Overall, and in contrast to the uniform and straightforward transition purportedly structured by the IVET system, the

respondents were pursuing a variety of pathways which were both complex and