The school-to-work transition is an important milestone in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. It is the time in the life of young people when they leave initial education and enter the labor market for the first time. Whether young people succeed in finding a job that matches their skills or even get a job at all depends on many individual factors and social circumstances. It requires young people's coping with new demands, may turn out to be unsuccessful, and often has long-lasting consequences for their life chances in adult life. The school-to-work transition is thus a critical event in the life of young people.
This article addresses the complex process of young people's insertion into the labor market by focusing on the antecedents, processes, and the outcomes of the school-to-work transition. It conceives of the school-to-work transition as an interplay between young people's resources and competences, and the opportunities and constraints they encounter in the social contexts of transition. After a brief discussion of various dimensions along which this transition needs to be distinguished, the article will give an overview of trends in the school-to-work transition that have been observed over the last decades in Western industrial societies in particular. Theoretical approaches of the school-to-work transition will be presented and the respective empirical evidence discussed. The concluding remarks present a short outlook into future research.