The Psychological Dimensions of Employability: Training Effectiveness With the Long-Term Unemployed

Byrne, Heather Louise (2001) The Psychological Dimensions of Employability: Training Effectiveness With the Long-Term Unemployed. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This research provides some empirical data in support of a psychological approach to evaluating a particular training intervention for a sample of long-term unemployed individuals. The labour market as a context for psychological research is explored, emphasising the complexity of the unemployment problem and the ideologies underpinning active labour market interventions. The following chapter is an overview of psychology's contribution to our understanding of unemployment. It discusses the central issues surrounding psychological wellbeing and the various theoretical models which have been proffered as explanatory frameworks. This chapter also critically reviews models of job- seeking behaviour and the few studies which have attempted to provide evaluations of unemployment interventions from a psychological perspective. This review of the relevant empirical literature supports the value to the evaluation of three behavioural variables and analytical issues pertaining to each such as measurement and utility are then developed. It is hypothesised that these psychological variables will provide useful indicators of individual progress throughout the programme and may help to identify the needs and characteristics of different sub-groups of participants. A longitudinal quantitative investigation was designed to study changes in employment commitment, self-esteem and occupationai work ethic (which comprises three subscales; initiative, interpersonal skills and being dependable). Self-report psychometric questionnaires were administered to a sample of programme participants (n=291) upon joining the Wise Group and the same sample was followed up on three occasions throughout the intervention's 12 month duration. Individuals who left the organisation for various reasons between assessments were contacted at home to maintain as consistent a sample as possible and to compare changes in scores over time amongst different training outcome groups. In addition, longitudinal qualitative work in the form of interviews with a sub-sample of participants was also carried out to provide some richer contextual information regarding their circumstances and perceptions of the intervention. The empirical work is presented in two main sections covenng the methodology and results of the quantitative and qualitative work respectively. Quantitative analyses show that the group as a whole increases significantly with respect to self-esteem and two of the three work-ethic sub dimensions over the course of training. In particular, measures of self-esteem and interpersonal skills are found to improve significantly over the first assessment interval, confirming that the early stages of training has a positive impact on the communication ability and perception of self-worth of the overall sample. Additional main results are the particular positive benefits demonstrated for those categorised as having either initial low employment commitment or self-esteem. Furthermore, the sample clusters into three identifiable categories. Of these, the most interesting is found to comprise individuals who score higher on self-esteem but lower on employment commitment. Several interaction effects are found in relation to assessment interval, training location and their influence upon employment commitment. There are no significant differences over time between training outcome groups and no significant differences in the relative frequencies of training outcomes either by training location or cluster type. Overall, these findings suggest that participation makes a significant positive impact for the group overall, but that individual employability factors by themselves are not strongly predictive of actual training outcome. The qualitative work consisted of short individual interviews which were held with a sub-sample of participants (N=40) to describe and track the perceived benefits of training and model the process of change. Initial baseline interviews describe a range of relevant issues pertaining to the situations and barriers long-term unemployed people face in looking for work and these areas are clustered and coded into themes such as effects of the unemployment experience and perceived barriers to re-employment. Time-two and time-three assessment points were used to collect descriptive information as to perceived benefits over time as compared to baseline and these data are coded for content themes. Comparisons of the thematic data over time confirm a significant qualitative shift in terms of perceived change in the self. This progress can be characterised by a movement from a general increase in self-esteem as a function of being back in the work environment and structured use of time to more task specific benefits associated with skill acquisition as a function of self-efficacy and achievement motivation. The results are discussed in terms of the utility of these measures in supporting a psychological dimension of individual employability. The results are considered in more detail and appropriate explanations advocated for the findings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Mike Burton
Keywords: Occupational psychology, Vocational education, Labor relations
Date of Award: 2001
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2001-75792
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 18:10
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 18:10

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