COLOMBIAN RURAL YOUTH DECISION-MAKING PROCESS REGARDING MIGRATION, UNIVERSITY EDUCATION AND CAREERS
Three research studies were conducted to explore and explain the Colombian rural youth decision-making process regarding migration, university education and careers. The first study was a review of literature about Latin American rural youth. Forty-five peer-review articles that conducted in 13 Latin American countries, including Colombia, during the last 20 years were reviewed and analyzed. After conducting a systematic review, four main approaches of research were identified: (a) rural youth migration, (b) education and/or communication programs (e.g., rural extension), (c) rural youth expectations or futures perspectives, and (d) characterization of rural youth. Regarding methods, quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method analyses were performed in these studies. Finally, main findings suggested that the rural context in these developing countries imposes socio-economic barriers for rural youth academic or professional development. Some authors also highlighted the importance of education or extension programs developed by local governments to empower Latin American rural youth.
The second study was a quantitative analysis that explored factors concerning the Colombian rural youth migration expectation using a multi-level approach (Level 1 = individual variables; Level 2 = family variables). Data came from 945 Colombian rural youth that responded to a national survey in 2016. Results showed that age, gender, and school grade were positively correlated to the migration expectation. Moreover, the family socioeconomic status was negatively correlated to the outcome. Family level variables explained 9% of the total migration expectation.
The third study explored and explained the Colombian rural youth perceptions about barriers they experienced during their career decision-making. This study used a convergent parallel mixed-method design. Participants of the quantitative phase were 155 Colombian youth that responded to a survey. On the other hand, the qualitative phase was made-up by five female and five male. These 10 people participated in an interview and wrote a short essay. All participants were members of the Colombian Rural Youth Network. Results showed that the career decision-making process for this Colombian occurred in a marginalized context, in which they did not have the same resources and/or tools to compete for university careers access with their urban peers.
As general conclusion of this dissertation, the Colombian rural context imposes restrictions for rural youth to pursue their career aspirations, which results in a push factor for youth to migrate to urban areas for career opportunities.