Career guidance inequalities in the context of labour shortage. The case of Roma young people in Hungary

Publication Type: 
Working Paper
CEU Center for Policy Studies
Place of Publication: 
CPS Working Papers
Series Number: 
This paper enquires into how disadvantaged Hungarian Roma young people take decisions about the main turning points of their educational and early career trajectories. My aim is to understand how they choose among the available opportunities at decisive points in their life course, who guides them and how, and what role guidance and counselling agents, services and activities play in their school years and in their school-to-work transition (STWT). I have collected data in South Transdanubia region, both in a county capital and its surrounding villages, among Roma young people of 18 to 30 years of age, through life-course interviews. Also, I conducted interviews with workers of significant pro-Roma and Roma NGOs, educational experts, VET and adult education teachers, as well as other experts in public employment. All together I base my knowledge on interviews with 35 Roma young people, and 27 experts. This paper is based on four case studies, strategically selected from the 35 interviews, aiming to represent a wide variety of factors and conditions that may influence their school-to-work transition. In order to interpret the collected data, I rely on a theoretical framework based on the intersection of school/career choice research, guidance research and the literature focusing on STWT in a rapidly changing labour market. Our findings suggest that far from reaching EU strategic goals, and international recommendations, the messy set of guidance agents, services and activities in Hungary tends to be contingent, discontinuous, disconnected, segmented, non-specialized and biased. Almost any guidance or counselling activity contributed positively to our informants’ careers. However, whether or not Roma young people have contact with professional guidance is a question of chance rather than a taken-for-granted fact. The paper concludes that the present state of guidance provision is incapable of performing its main functions and leaves Roma young people in a vulnerable situation in an exploitive labour market.