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    Evaluating the effectiveness and implementation of new employment enhancement programmes in an Irish context: A focus on well-being and employability

    Whelan, Nuala (2018) Evaluating the effectiveness and implementation of new employment enhancement programmes in an Irish context: A focus on well-being and employability. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Unemployment is a persistent global problem which has attracted considerable interest in recent years from governments, policy makers, researchers and practitioners. During the last three decades or so, there has been a significant shift in international labour market policy (and its impleme ntation) toward activation and active labour market policy to help the unemployed progress more quickly into employment. In Ireland, policy changes in this direction have been more recent, with the implementation of the new Pathways to Work policy (PTWP). However, long - term unemployment (LTU) remains high and more work is needed, both nationally and internationally, to identify how best to intervene effectively and appropriately with this vulnerable group. This research comprised three separate , inter - rela ted studies , designed to: (1) critically examine the implementation and perceived effectiveness of the PTWP in Ireland; (2) evaluate the effectiveness of a new high support intervention ( when compared to services as usual ) in terms of its impact on psychol ogical well - being and related psychosocial factors which influence employability; and (3) conduct a small - scale process evaluation to explore the implementation aspects and mechanisms underpinning the new intervention and to draw some comparisons, in paral lel, with routine PTWP services. The three studies were conducted within a mixed - methods pragmatic framework and comprised: (1) an exploration of the perceptions and views of the PTWP amongst a range of stakeholders ( N =21) using semi - structured interviews and analysed using a constructivist grounded theory approach; (2) a single - centre randomised controlled trial (RCT) with a sample of LTU clients ( N =149) who were followed up immediately post - intervention and six months later to assess changes in primary and secondary outcomes and (3) a process evaluation using both semi - structured interviews (n = 6) and focus groups (n = 9) and analysed using standard thematic analysis. Study One identified three overarching themes re levant to the effectiveness of the PTWP including: (1) ‘the reform agenda’; (2) ‘depersonalisation’: and, (3) the missing ‘how to’ of implementation. Study Two indicated high levels of psychological distress at baseline, as well as findings to suggest that both the intervention and services - as - usual had led to improvements over time in well - being and employability, albeit with a number of more positive effects observed amongst the men who took part in the intervention. The process evaluation revealed three important themes with regard to implementation aspects of the intervention including the important role of: (1) the practitioner - client relationship; (2) the service setting; and (3) the skill sets of practitioners. This study is the first to examine the PTWP with regard to psychological well - being and employability outcomes for the LTU. It provides support for detailing the ‘how to’ of implementation, emphasising the potential added value of well - designed interventions both in terms of mental health and w ell - being outcomes, and career progression. The findings suggest that practitioners, employment services, policy makers and other stakeholders, should recognise the important role of careful, appropriate, and quality - focused ALMP interventions in terms of promoting increased and sustainable employability, positive mental - health, and improved quality of life for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged job seekers.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Evaluating; effectiveness; implementation; employment enhancement programmes; Irish context; focus; well-being; employability;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 9569
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2018 15:14
    Funders: Irish Research Council
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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