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.