Large scaled quantitative youth surveys
In order to study youths’ transition from education to work in the CCA region the TEW-CCA project starts to conduct large scaled nationally representative youth surveys in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Tajikistan. The ongoing project aims to carry out 2000 standardized face to face interviews with youth in each above mentioned countries. The aim of the standardized surveys is to collect data that are not available in existing surveys (such as labour force surveys). Instead of taking a standard cross-sectional social indicator based perspective, this project seeks to gain new insights by conducting a survey with strong retrospective elements. The innovation will be to collect longitudinal data on the dynamic processes of education attainment (including a characterization of the family of origin), labour market entry, early work history and demographic events (migration history, family formation) as well as data on subjective attitudes and identities. Instead of focusing on the situation at the interview, information about the life course should be retrospectively collected about the timing of specific transition events (such as leaving education, finding a first job, first marriage, first childbirth), its characteristics (e.g. type of education attained, quality of first job, characteristic of wife/husband) and the dynamic interrelationships of the various transition events.
Traditionally, researchers consider youth a rather static period between the ages of 15 and 24. However, given the variation in life courses in real life, this age period may have different meanings for different individuals and it does not account for the fact that youth transitions are dynamic concepts that need to take the time dimension into account. Thus, we adopt a dynamic definition in order to capture the transition from education to work for each individual. The design of the survey has the advantage to capture important individual level dynamics in the processes of leaving education, searching for a job, finding a first job and experiencing career mobility but also retrospectively capturing other important youth transitions such as migration processes and family formation. Specifically, the survey population will include young people aged 18 to 35 who have left the education system during the last ten years.
The fieldwork of the quantitative youth surveys will take place in autumn 2016 in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan. Due to political and practical reasons some regions within countries have to be excluded from the survey. In Azerbaijan the occupied Armenia Nagorno Karabakh and adjacent seven districts will be excluded. In Georgia youth cannot be interviewed in the Russian occupied territories/”autonomous regions” Abkhazia and South Ossetia. With the purpose of reasonable fieldwork expenses, some remote Georgian areas with population will be excluded from the sampling procedure, too. These are the high mountain areas of regions Rach Lechkhumi, Zemo Svaneti and Mtskheta Mtianeti that are populated by less than 2.5% of the total Georgian population. In Tajikistan, the high mountains areas Murgab district in the Mountain Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast as well as Kuhistoni Mastchoh, Aini, Panjikent districts in the Sughd Oblast (representing less than 3% of the Tajik population) will be excluded.
Qualitative in depth interviews
From a qualitative point of view, we have identified the need of an in-depth qualitative survey in order to gain a better understanding of how youth subjectively evaluate their situation and how they cope with problems they have faced during their transition from education to work. Thus, the quantitative analyses will be complemented by qualitative in depth interviews with youths. Specifically, 30 qualitative in depth interviews will be conducted per country, i.e. in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Tajikistan.
Several reasons support the choice to make additional in depth interviews. First of all, qualitative interviews allow asking about the details of what happened: what was the decisional process, what the respondent thought and felt. They are the best source of information about the respondents’ own interpretation and wording with respect to their behaviour, their motives, emotions and experiences in the past and the present and the reasons that lead them to act as they do. Secondly, in depth interviews yield descriptions of experiences, choices and events, so they are particularly suitable for analysing processes (e.g.: “What is exactly the reason for leaving education early?”). This characteristic is central because this research project is structured (a) around a dynamic approach by analysing timing, ordering and causal interrelationships of youth transitions in a life course perspective. Finally, more than any other technique social scientists use, in depth interviewing can shed light on events and aspects that would otherwise remain unknown because they happened in the past or regard private life of individuals. The qualitative method aims pre eminently at clarification, interpretation and, to a certain degree, at explanation of mechanisms of choice. Fourth, unlike quantitative research, in which the goal is make a generalization about the degree or extend of a problem, qualitative research aims to look to the meanings young people attribute to their given situation. The expected outputs are detailed descriptions and classifications, rounded understandings, maps of meaning, processes, and contexts.
The qualitative interviews will be performed after first insights from the standardized large scaled youth surveys have been gained. This allows us to slightly adjust the in depth interviews to address specific aspects from the standardized surveys that need an in depth understanding based on qualitative interviews.
Ethics in quantitative and qualitative youth surveys
The proposed qualitative and quantitative youth surveys and research documentation (information sheets, consent forms, interview outlines, etc.) will be reviewed before the primary data collection commences in order to meet ethical principles. Based on ethical principles and extensive documentation/guidelines of European and German scientific ethical principles advice will be given to the partners from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan. An ethic approval form will be specified at the beginning of the research project and signed by the participating researchers from all countries. Ethical issues will be considered as an ongoing and reflexive part of the research process throughout the life of a research project.
The principle of informed and free decision participation in the quantitative and qualitative interviews will be ensured, in each country, by an informed consent process which includes informing possible participants of the aims and procedures of the study and guaranteeing that they will not suffer any consequences for refusing to participate, so that they can make an informed and free choice of whether or not to participate. The project management team will prepare information leaflets describing various aspects of the research to participants (experts, young people). In case of acceptance, explanations about terms of confidentiality and use of information gathered in the interview, autonomy to skip any question or to withdraw their consent will be outlined, as well as the fact that participants must give written consent by signing an “informed consent” form. The contact of the researcher and the research centre coordinating the study at national level will also be given, in order to enable interviewees to ask any question about the study and participation on the study.
The range of data security measures will be adopted to protect participants from identification at all stages of a study are outlined below. In accordance with the data protection rules in the participating countries, we will provide users anonymized data only. Each national team is responsible for checking their data with confidentiality in mind. The each research team will anonymize the personal data in accordance with national and general data protection legislation. It will be made clear that results of the research will be reported in such a way that no individual is publicly identifiable.
Qualitative data is collected via a digital recorder. These files are downloaded from the recorder on return to the office and in a secure directory. Access to these files is restricted to authorized personnel. Audio files and resulting transcripts used in qualitative research are sent via a secure server. Transcripts are stored in a secure directory with access to these restricted to authorized personnel. Names and addresses of participants are separated from transcripts, analytical databases and outputs and the ability to connect both is limited to authorized personnel. The project will not provide external access to qualitative datasets (either transcripts or charted summarized data) without the explicit consent of the participant at the outset of a research project. On rare occasions when consent is sought, only an anonymized version of the transcript is shared.