Encouraging hands-on job experimentation among teenagers

Last registered on September 22, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Encouraging hands-on job experimentation among teenagers
Initial registration date
August 24, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 04, 2023, 5:52 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
September 22, 2023, 11:49 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

Bocconi University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Zurich
PI Affiliation
University of Bern
PI Affiliation
University of Bern

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Everywhere in the world, teenagers are asked to make educational choices which will have long-term consequences on their career trajectories and opportunities. Across OECD countries, students between 10 and 14 years old are asked to choose what school track to follow. While this choice is influenced by a number of people, tools which empower students to make a more informed choice are uncommon.
This study aims to understand how experimentation affects job search and career choices. We hypothesize that encouraging teenagers’ experimentation of different occupations will affect their job search and ultimately help them make better choices for their career. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first study to examine how (forced) experimentation in a real-life work environment can affect students’ job search and, perhaps, their long-term career choices.
We design a randomized controlled trial (RCT) targeted to grade 8 students in Switzerland, of whom most will start an apprenticeship after compulsory education (i.e., after 9th grade). The intervention consists in enabling students to experience the real work environment in occupations they have not considered before. We collaborate with schools and firms. The intervention is part of a one-day school event where students visit 4-5 local firms to hear and learn about apprenticeships they have signed up for. For the project, we will introduce experimental variation in the type of occupations that a student experiences during these visits at the local firms.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Brenoe, Anne et al. 2023. "Encouraging hands-on job experimentation among teenagers." AEA RCT Registry. September 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.11973-1.1
Experimental Details


To test whether experimentation with the real-life work environment in non-considered occupations affects students’ occupational search, we designed the following intervention in collaboration with schools and firms in multiple towns in Switzerland. In each town, the school organizes a one-day school event (henceforth event) devoted to occupational choice. During this event, students visit 4-5 different firms where they get to experience one occupation in each firm. We refer to each of these visits as a trial apprenticeship (TA). In addition, students also attend 1-2 workshops during the event. Each TA and workshop have a time slot of around 50 minutes and are attended by a group of students.

Schools collaborate with local firms to create the TAs and the workshops. Before the event, students get a list of all available TAs in their town and indicate 5-6 occupations they would like to experience during the event. To coordinate all the visits, schools use a computer program with a specific algorithm to allocate students to firms based on students’ preferences and firms’ availability. The two workshops are typically unrestricted in size and work as a buffer to mitigate logistical difficulties in creating the program.

Students who are randomized into the control arm get to experience 4 TAs and 2 workshops; these 4 TAs are selected by the algorithm from the list of 5-6 occupations they indicated at signup. Thus, control students only get to experience occupations they are interested in. Students who are randomized into the treatment arm will similarly get to experience 4 TAs they signed up for and 1 workshop. On top of this, treated students will experience a 5th TA which they did not sign up for. In other words, the treatment is to experience an occupation they had not considered before. We categorize occupations based on their gender composition (female, neutral, male) and type (working with hands/machines, working with people, working with computer). Treatment occupations are randomly drawn from a category which is different to the categories of the students’ preferred occupations.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary short-term outcomes (measured 1-2 months after the event through surveys) are the following:
1) Search breadth index: it measures the breadth of a student’s apprenticeship search in terms of occupations
2) Occupational type index: it measures how different the apprenticeships they are searching for are from their preferred occupations at baseline

In the mid-term (by the end of 9th grade), we will measure similar survey outcomes and also collect data on online apprenticeship search behavior.
In the longer term (up to four years after the event), we will collect admin data on apprenticeship contracts and turnover.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Please see our pre-analysis plan (PAP).

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1) Beliefs about own skills fit
2) Beliefs about work tasks
3) Beliefs about work environment
4) Beliefs about employer demand
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Please see our pre-analysis plan (PAP).

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Randomization happens in two steps.

In the first step, we assign to all the students a “potential” treatment occupation in the following way. We consider the 5 to 6 occupations that the student ranks as their favourites and assign them to the corresponding occupational categories we defined. These are the categories that the student is interested in. To pick a treatment occupation, we randomly choose 2 of the occupational categories that the student is NOT interested in and select all the TAs in these two categories that are in the student’s own or an adjacent skill category. The student is then shown the list of TAs belonging to these two non-preferred categories and can veto up to two of these TAs. We then randomly select one TA among the non-vetoed TAs in these non-preferred categories to be the 5th TA which treated students experience during the event. We also pick a backup treatment-TA which we could use in case there is an organizational problem to use a specific TA. For specific deviations from these assignment rules, see the PAP.

In the second step, we then assign students to the treatment or control stratifying by school, classroom and gender.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Randomization is at the individual level. We stratify randomization by school, classroom, and gender
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
We expect 2,300 individuals based on current agreements with schools, but we may get between 1,500 and 3,000 students.
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,300 individuals (same as number of clusters)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We expect 1,150 individuals in each treatment arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Please see our pre-analysis plan (PAP).

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
OEC IRB (by the Human Subjects Committee of the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology at the University of Zurich)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-analysis plan



Uploaded At: September 22, 2023