Économie et Statistique n° 371 - 2004 How Manual Employee Families Handle their Children's Futures - Trade Unions in Companies: How are Male and Female Wages Affected? - Income by Social Background - The Productive Fabric: Renewal at the Bottom and Stability at the Top
How Manual Employee Families Handle their Children's Futures
Although most manual employees today would like to see their children escaping junior positions, many would also like to see them taking up the profession of their choice, provided they do well at school. Manual employees are incorporating the new role of educational qualifications in the modelling of their social trajectories and are increasingly placing school at the core of their educational strategies. Longer education is a key issue for the future of the family line and therefore forms part of an intergenerational dynamic: the hope that manual employees place in their children to fulfil their own dreams through education bears witness to a return of aspirations handed down from one generation to the next. But while qualifications are increasingly necessary to guarantee sound integration into the workforce, they are also increasingly insufficient. This can prompt parents to get involved in strategies to find their children work. This involvement is a long-standing tradition among manual employees. One-quarter of manual employees' children born between the end of the war and the mid-1970s received help from their parents to find a job. Yet the results parents achieve by using their contacts are ambivalent. Although this strategy may keep low-skilled children out of unemployment, it increases their chances of becoming manual employees and does not significantly improve the likelihood of their becoming senior executives or middle managers. This paper does not challenge the existence of generation gaps, but puts them into perspective by showing that, beyond the tensions and misunderstandings between parents and children, the aspirations of both parents and children are part of the same dynamic that unites the two generations in the internalisation of the implications of education.