This is the first major report from the Pathways and Prospects research study about pathway and career-related experiences and perspectives of young people after leaving school. Undertaken by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, it investigates how young people make decisions about their careers and working life, including any part that indecision and “changes of heart” might play in that. This investigation raises some issues about the framework used in thinking about how to support young people in transition. It suggests we take more of a focus on career and identity production. Pathways and Prospects is a 4-year longitudinal study that asks: How do young people describe they are doing and what it means in their lives? How do they see themselves in relation to their pathways? What can we learn in relation to policies and practices? And where they might usefully go from here?
This report focuses on the processes and meaning of pathways choices. To see patterns around this more clearly, the researchers took an innovative approach to analysing the interviews narratives. They used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse the interviews in terms of the major choice themes of
security and exploration. Through quantitative analysis, the dimensions of security and exploration were clustered into Exploration, Contingent Security, and Secure Commitment factors, and the interviews clustered into four groups with distinct profiles: Hopeful Reactors, Confident Explorers, Anxious Seekers, and Passion Honers.