TREE (Transitions from Education to Employment) surveys the post-compulsory educational and labour market pathways of a school leavers’ cohort in Switzerland, being the country’s first, and so far only, prospective longitudinal study of this type on a national level. TREE is based on a sample of approximately 6,000 young people who participated in the PISA survey of the year 2000 and left compulsory school the same year. This sample has been followed up by TREE, by means of seven survey panels in an annual rhythm between 2001 and 2007 and an eighth one in 2010. A 9th survey panel is planned for 2014, when the cohort shall have reached age 30 on average.
The survey activities carried out so far are a solid foundation upon which to base a comprehensive, dynamic analysis of what happens in detail between the end of compulsory schooling and young adulthood. TREE’s analytic advantage lies in the possibility to relate the modalities of labour market entry to the surveyed youths’ competencies on the one hand, and the characteristics of the previous educational pathways on the other. Thus, for example, initial labour market entry can be analysed in terms of whether a first post-compulsory certificate or upper secondary level has been obtained. Another axis of research envisaged is the detailed analysis of factors (such as gender, migration background, social status, etc.) influencing duration and conditions of job search activities, the presence or absence of spells of unemployment, precarious employment and/or job-skills mismatch. These types of analyses are performed across various groupings such as gender, national background, etc.
One of TREE’s major advantages is that pathway analyses are not limited to the formal labour market. TREE’s sample and survey design also allows for analysis of pathways and biographical developments on the fringes or outside of the (formal) labour market. Another asset of the TREE dataset is the fact that more than 2,000 surveyed young people have passed through basic vocational education and training (VET). This allows for analysis of groups of professions or economic sectors. Thus, TREE promises relevant answers to major issues regarding education, labour market, and social policy (i.e. youth unemployment and its consequences, issues of how educational certification translates into labour market qualification, etc.).