Understanding why apprentices consider dropping out: longitudinal prediction of apprentices’ workplace interest and anxiety

Tim E. Powers, Helen M.G. Watt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Although apprenticeships ease the school-to-work transition for youth, many apprentices seriously consider dropping out. While associated with noncompletions, dropout considerations are important to study in their own right, because they reflect a negative quality of apprenticeship experience and can impact apprentices’ quality of learning and engagement. Few studies have addressed apprentices’ dropout considerations using comprehensive theoretical frameworks. To address this gap, this study examined how apprentices’ interest and anxiety growth trajectories predicted dropout considerations and associated with perceived resources and demands, grounded in expectancy-value theory (EVT) and the job demands-resources (JD-R) model. Australian apprentices (N = 2387) were surveyed at 6-month intervals utilising an accelerated longitudinal design, on their workplace interest and anxiety, job-related resources (role model, timing of choice, employer teaching, expertise, job security, and training wages) and demands (lack of information, career indecision, and excessive work). Latent growth models (LGM) within a structural equation modelling framework showed apprentices began with high interest which declined over time, and low anxiety which increased in the latter half of their first year until the end of their second year. Apprentices’ dropout considerations were predicted by initial interest and anxiety levels (at the beginning of their apprenticeship), and by interest losses during their apprenticeship (but, not by increases in anxiety). Almost half the variance in interest and anxiety trajectories was explained by apprentices’ perceived resources and demands: resources had a greater effect on promoting interest than reducing anxiety, whereas demands were more important in exacerbating anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages23
JournalEmpirical Research in Vocational Education and Training
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Apprenticeships
  • Expectancy-value theory
  • Interest
  • Job demands-resources model

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