Career choice in pre-vocational secondary education: economics popular among non-western groups

23/10/2007 15:00

Within the basic and middle management vocational tracks of pre-vocational education (vmbo) 29 percent of pupils choose engineering, and 32 percent health and social care. Economics and agriculture attract 26 and 13 percent of pupils respectively. In the group of pupils with a non-western foreign background, 47 percent choose economics, compared with 20 percent of native Dutch pupils.

Boys choose engineering

In school year 2006/’07, nearly 120 thousand pupils were in the last two years of the middle-management and basic vocational tracks of vmbo. Most of them were in the care, engineering and economics disciplines, which were about equally popular. Agriculture was less popular. Girls were mainly in the care disciplines, and slightly more girls than boys chose agriculture. More than half of boys chose engineering. About a quarter of both boys and girls chose economics.

Students in the four vmbo disciplines, by sex, 2006/’07

Students in the four vmbo disciplines, by sex, 2006/’07

Economics popular among non-westerners

Pupils with a non-western foreign background have a strong preference for economics (47 percent). Engineering attracted 22 percent and only 3 percent opted for agriculture. More native Dutch than non-western pupils chose agriculture (16 percent) ad engineering (32 percent), but fewer of them opted for economics.

Career choice differences mainly in agriculture and economics

The difference in choices of discipline between native Dutch girls and those with a non-western foreign background is pinpointed by the choice between agriculture and economics. An average 15 percent of girls chose agriculture. For girls with a non-western foreign background this was 3 percent, and for native Dutch girls 19 percent. More non-western foreign girls chose economics on the other hand: 44 percent compared with 17 percent of native girls.

For boys, too, there were substantial differences between ethnic backgrounds. On average 28 percent of boys did economics; but for native Dutch boys this was 22 percent, while for boys with a non-western foreign background it was 49 percent. Agriculture was more popular among native Dutch boys than among non-western groups (14 and  2 percent respectively). The percentages for boys and girls with a western foreign background often lay between these two groups.

Students in the four vmbo disciplines by ethnic origin and sex, 2006/’07

Students in the four vmbo disciplines by ethnic origin and sex, 2006/’07