Employment and Welfare-to-Work Training Initiatives: The Effects of Pre-Training Attitudes on Job-Search Behavior, Employment Status, and Job-Search Intended Effort

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2003-12-10

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Abstract

For over a decade, the issues of welfare reform and unemployment have been high priorities at the national level. Surveys were administered to participants in three training agencies to examine individual pre-training attitudinal and behavioral variables, including self-efficacy, employment commitment, and unemployment negativity. The study then examined the relationship between these variables and post-training job-search behavior, employment status, and job-search intended effort of unemployed trainees. The behavioral plasticity hypothesis was also explored in conjunction with the variables of general and specific self-efficacy, employment commitment, and unemployment negativity.

Hierarchical regression analyses of data from 121 participants revealed that pre-training specific self-efficacy and unemployment negativity were both significant predictors of post-training job-search behavior and frequency. Thus, trainees with higher levels of pre-training specific self-efficacy and unemployment negativity also reported more varied and frequent post-training job-search behavior. Further, results of logistic regression analysis indicated that unemployment negativity was a significant predictor of post-training employment status. Specifically, trainees with high initial levels of unemployment negativity were twice as likely to find post-training employment.

Although not hypothesized, the demographic variables of marital status, reasons for unemployment, and income also significantly predicted post-training employment status. More specifically, trainees who were single had a greater likelihood of post-training job placement in comparison to married trainees. Further, respondents who were unemployed because of a disability or other health-related issue were less likely to find employment after training than their counterparts. In addition, trainees with higher levels of income were more likely to find post-training employment than those with lower income levels. The behavioral plasticity effect, however, was not supported with either predictor variable when job-search behavior and frequency was used as the outcome variable.

Post-hoc analysis revealed pre-training employment commitment as a significant predictor of post-training employment status. Specifically, participants with higher levels of pre-training employment commitment were almost three-times more likely to find employment after training than their counterparts. Post-hoc analyses also found that both specific self-efficacy and unemployment negativity mediate the relationship between employment commitment and post-training job-search behavior and frequency. Several implications of the study are discussed and areas for future research are explored.

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