The on-going global economic difficulties and the subsequent increases in unemployment have led the UK government to look at innovative ways of reintegrating unemployed people back into work. Nowhere is this more critical than in the area of youth unemployment, which in the UK is steadily rising for young people aged 16-24 years who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). As part of this strategy work-integration social enterprises (WISEs) have become providers of employment enhancement programmes (EEPs) that aim to improve the employability of NEETs, in part due to the 'added value' that WISEs are seen to bring to such programmes. However, this perception, along with the requirements of public funding contracts, creates a pressure on WISEs to demonstrate such 'added value' through rigorous evaluation procedures. However, there is little academic research that both attempts to measure WISE performance in relation to 'outcomes' and to understand how organisational type and structure affects this. This research study takes a comparative, multi-case study approach to study three separate work-integration organisations delivering EEPs to NEETs. Two of these organisations are WISEs and the other organisation is a 'for-profit' private company utilised in this study as a comparison group. In order to provide a rigorous measure of outcome, all participants completed three different self-efficacy scales and engaged in individual semi-structured interviews with researchers before and after engagement in their respective programmes (Time 1 & Time 2). Results from the qualitative analysis of the interviews and the statistical analysis of the questionnaire data are triangulated to evaluate the outcome from all three programmes, providing the participant perspective alongside changes in self-efficacy. In addition, semi-structured interviews and focus groups were held with the owners and staff at the organisations respectively, in order to elicit understanding of how the differing aims, values and structures present at each organisation impacted upon the delivery of the programmes and hence upon the outcome benefits experienced by the NEETs. The results of the research provide an opportunity to compare and contrast programmes delivered by social enterprises with that of a 'for-profit' company in order to give an insight into programme and outcome differences based upon the orientation of the delivery organisation. Results revealed no significant difference between the outcome benefits experienced by the NEETs at the WISEs and those NEETs present at the for-profit comparison group. However, analysis of the effect of the organisational aims, values and structures upon the delivery of EEPs, suggests that the 'added value' offered by WISEs, whilst not immediately evident in the outcome data, came from the induction policies that they operated and their willingness to work with more socially excluded individuals.
|Date of Award||2012|
- University of Northampton