TREE (Transitions from Education to Employment) surveys post-compulsory educational and labour market pathways of school leavers in Switzerland, being the country’s first prospective longitudinal study of this type at national level. The project's first cohort (TREE1) 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 means of seven survey panels at a yearly rhythm between 2001 and 2007 and two further survey panels in 2010 and 2014, at an average sample age of 26 and 30 years respectively. Data for waves 1 through 8 are publicly available as scientific use files (see Data). The TREE data are among the five most widely used social scientific datasets in Switzerland. Data for wave 9 are scheduled for publication by September 2016. A further panel wave is planned for 2019 (at average respondent's age 35).
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 at upper secondary level has been obtained. Another axis of research envisaged is the detailed analysis of factors 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.).
TREE is mainly funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and located at the University of Berne. Its principal investigators are Prof. Dr. Ben Jann (Institute of Sociology), Prof. Dr. Rolf Becker (Sociology of Education Division at the Institute of Educational Sciences) and Prof. Dr. Christian Imdorf (Institutes of Sociology at the Universities of Bern and Basel).
In 2016, the longitudinal observation of a second school leavers' cohort has started. With this extension to a multi-cohort design, Switzerland is among the few countries worldwide in which comparative inter-cohort analyses can be carried out.