Educational time-out between a rock and a hard place: Vocational students in search of coherent life narratives

  • Kaja Reegård Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research
Keywords: Vocational students, gap year, coherent narratives, individualisation, youth


This article analyses students in upper secondary vocational education and training (VET) for retail and office work in Norway who deploy gap year justification in search of an educational time-out. The international literature on gap year, emphasises that this is a way for privileged students of getting ahead in the competition for access to elite universities. Based on qualitative interviews of VET students, the article finds that this perspective is, however, very different from the (un)planned ‘gapping’ reality of the working-class students of the study. The findings show that the students have worked out neither activities for the gap year nor what they plan to do after their time off. Rather, the findings reveal gapping to be a strategy to postpone essential choices of what and who to become. By examining the ways in which VET students in weakly established vocational trades make meaning of their seemingly open-ended educational journeys, the article explores how their interpretations of the opportunities they face are informed by legitimising individualised gapping discourses.


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How to Cite
Reegård, K. (2019). Educational time-out between a rock and a hard place: Vocational students in search of coherent life narratives. Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 9(1), 129-143.
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