In order to give at-risk youth – young people without an entrance qualification and often with problems in several areas of life – the greatest possible chance of social participation, there are both regular (school) curricula and programmes specially developed for this target group. They aim to increase the professional identity of at-risk youth. This PhD research examines the relationship between individual characteristics of at-risk youth and their occupational identity. It focuses on changeable characteristics that professionals in schools and programmes can use to strengthen professional identity. Furthermore, the research provides insight into desired approaches by mentors during individual counselling aimed at professional identity. Participating institutions in the research are the District school (specially developed for former dropouts), the Start Colleges (the current Entrance Study Programme) of ROC Zadkine and ROC Albeda, and the Youth Desk. The research follows a mixed-methods design in which both quantitative and qualitative methods are applied.
Doctoral thesis supervisor: Prof. Dr W.F. Admiraal
University: Leiden University
The first quantitative study of this PhD research examines the extent to which individual characteristics of at-risk youth are related to their occupational identity. The characteristics vary in changeability. Demographic characteristics and personality traits are not changeable; motivation, resilience and school involvement are increasingly changeable. The second and third study examine whether the strength of this connection differs for different at-risk youth: the connection between motivation and vocational identity, for example, may be stronger for women than for men. The quantitative studies use a self-designed questionnaire, based on existing instruments, which was tested among the target group.
The fourth study is qualitative in nature and researches the experiences of students and mentors in order to understand desired approaches during mentoring. Data collection takes place through interviews with students and mentors.