Training for unemployed people : trainees' perspectives and government policies for the Training Opportunities Programme.
Type of content
This study aimed to compare and contrast government policy for the Training Opportunities Programme (TOP) with the perceptions and experiences of TOP trainees. The study identifies and critiques the key features of opportunity in training for the unemployed including 'skills training for employment', promotion of 'lifelong learning', and 'second chance learning'. It poses the question: "Is TOP training a place of opportunity or a 'collecting house for end of the line students'?" Eighteen TOP trainees were surveyed over a six-month period to elicit their perceptions of opportunities, if any, in TOP. Four semi-structured interviews, which were tape recorded and transcribed, tracked the trainees' progress and career pathways on their vocational skills courses and beyond. Features that were perceived as opportunities were the appeal ofvocational skills, structure, routine, social interaction and a financial security, personal and vocational challenges, these factors increased confidence and self-esteem. Tutor and training centre networking with employers was the greatest single factor which aided people into employment. Trainees set and achieved a wide range of personal and vocational goals. The study identified limitations in government policy for TOP when compared to the trainees experiences, and itemised barriers to the promotion of lifelong learning and opportunities for second chance learners. A considerable amount of positive personal and vocational trainee development was not identified in the conventional indicators of success used for reviewing courses. The study goes on to suggest ways of building on current government policy to maximise opportunities for TOP participants and alternative measures for reporting course results to more accurately reflect the trainees progress on TOP courses. There is minimal independent research into training the unemployed in a New Zealand context, ideas for further studies are suggested.