JILPT Research Report No.181
Survey of Participants in the Job Seeker Support System:
Study based on a three-point longitudinal survey comprising pre-training, post-training, and follow-up surveys

December 11, 2015

Summary

Research Objective

The purpose of this Research was to gather and organize basic information that would contribute to studies of future system reviews, etc., in response to a request from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Specifically, (1) the attributes of participants in the Job Seeker Support System were to be ascertained, and (2) changes after taking part in the Job Seeker Support System were to be studied. Another more general aim, derived from the above, was to study the synergy arising from linkage and integration of vocational training, benefit payment and employment support (career support), from the angles of both vocational training and employment support.

Research Method

In this Research, participants in Job Seeker Support training were surveyed at three points in time – before the training (“pre-training survey”), immediately after the training (“post-training survey”) and after a certain period of time (“follow-up survey”). The purpose in doing so was to gather information broadly on issues such as changes in skills and awareness as a result of the training, and how the training impacted the participants’ employment situation when a certain time had passed after completing the training.

The pre-training survey (1st survey) was carried out before the survey targets received Job Seeker Support training on the day when support guidance was given in the respective “Hello Work” employment security offices. The survey targeted all those who were due to take part in Job Seeker Support training courses held in September 2012 (7,275 participants).  The response rate was 87.2%, with 6,347 participants responding.

The post-training survey (2nd survey) targeted all those who took part in the September training courses. This survey was conducted in each Hello Work office on the first day scheduled for attendance at the offices after completion of the training. In the pre-training and post-training surveys, each participant was given a unique code number in each Hello Work office, enabling their results to be tallied in the subsequent analysis. The post-training survey had 4,797 respondents.

The follow-up survey (3rd survey) targeted September 2012 training course completers who had responded to the post-training survey and agreed to take part in the follow-up survey. Questionnaires were sent out in September 2013, and 891 replies that were returned by the end of October were used for analysis. Because the questionnaires were distributed directly from Hello Work offices, the survey targeted respondents who submitted a consent form agreeing to cooperate in the follow-up survey. Since it was assumed that, at the time of the follow-up survey, the respondents would be broadly divided into those who had already found work at least once and those who had not, separate questionnaires were prepared for both types, and respondents were asked to fill in the questionnaire that was relevant to their own situation.

Main Findings

  1. Participant attributes: At the survey point (as of 2012), females accounted for 70% of participants and males for 30%, with generally more females in the 30s age group and more males in the 50s and 60s. Of the males, 70% of respondents in their 30s and 40s had no spouse or children. About one quarter of females in their 30s or older had children but no spouse. Multivariate analysis showed that respondents could be classified into one of four types: “Young people who are cohabiting with their parents and have little experience of regular employment”, “Single males with rather long periods of unemployment”, “Middle-aged to older long-term unemployed who have long experience of regular employment and used to be breadwinners”, and “Housewives with both spouses and children”.
  2. Vocational training and employment support: The most common vocational training period was 3.0-3.9 months, accounting for a little over 50% of responses. The number of respondents who received vocational training attendance benefits was also about 50%. When participants were asked how they first knew about the Job Seeker Support System, the most common response was “Hello Work pamphlet or other PR” with a little more than 40%, followed by “Introduced by Hello Work staff” with just over 30%, and “Recommended by family member, friend or acquaintance” with just under 30%. The most frequently cited reason for taking part in the system was “Free vocational training is available (can acquire skills and knowledge)” with about 70%. The most common field of training was “Nursing and welfare” with about one-quarter, followed by “Basic course” and “Sales, marketing and clerical” with just under 20% each. Meanwhile, just under 60% cited “Guidance on writing CVs”, “Individual vocational advice (career counseling)” and “Job card preparation support and issue” as particularly useful types of employment support.

Table 1: Characteristics of participants in the Job Seeker Support training system

Vocational training period ・ At the survey point (as of September 2013), the most common vocational training period was “3.0-3.9 months”, accounting for a little over 50% of responses, followed by “5-6 months” with about 30%.
・ For females, “3.0-3.9 months” was most common with just under 60%, while for males it was “5-6 months” with about 40%.
・ The response “3.0-3.9 months” increased in proportion to age.
・ The response “3.0-3.9 months” increased in proportion to household income and total household financial assets.
Vocational training attendance benefits ・ About 50% had applied for eligibility screening.
・ The proportion of benefit applicants was higher among males, single-parents, breadwinners, low educational background, income and assets.
How first knew about the Job Seeker Support System ・ The most common response was “Hello Work pamphlet or other PR” with just more than 40%, followed by “Introduced by Hello Work staff” with just over 30%, and “Recommended by family member, friend or acquaintance” with just under 30%.
・ “Hello Work pamphlet or other PR” was common among married, males, in their 40s, with a high educational background, income and assets, who had long experience of regular employee, who had until very recently worked as regular, contracted or dispatch employees, and who had been looking for work for more than 3 months but less than 1 year since leaving their last job.
・ “Recommended by family member, friend or acquaintance” was common among female, junior high school graduates, in their teens to 20s, who cohabited with their main breadwinner, who had until recently worked part-time or arubaito with little experience of regular employment, and who had been looking for work for only a short time since leaving their last job.
Reason for taking part in the system ・ “The most frequently cited reason was “Free vocational training is available (can acquire skills and knowledge)” with about 70%. This was followed by “Can receive employment support from Hello Work” with 9.6%, “Can receive career counseling” with 6.2%, and “Can receive vocational training attendance benefits” with 5.0%.
・A high proportion of females cited the availability of vocational training, while males tended to focus more on receiving benefits.
・Ratios of responses other than “Free vocational training is available” were higher among the older, with children but no spouse, low educational backgrounds and incomes, welfare recipients, and applicants for benefits. →“Can receive employment support for more practical situations” were reasons for taking part in the system.
Field of training attended ・The most common field was “Nursing and welfare” with about one-quarter of responses, followed by “Basic course” and “Sales, marketing and clerical” with just under 20% each.
・For males, “Healthcare clerical” was most commonly cited by those in their teens, “IT sector” and “Creative” for those in their 20s, “IT sector” also for those in their 30s, no particular characteristic for those in their 40s, “Nursing and welfare” for those in their 50s, and “Basic course” for those in their 60s.
・ For females, “Hairdressing and beauty” was most commonly cited by those in their teens to 30s, and “Nursing and welfare” by those in their 40s-60s.
・ “Nursing and welfare” was common among those with children, junior high and senior high school graduates, low income and assets, welfare recipients, whose most recent employment format had been part-time, arubaito or self-employment, who had been looking for work for a long time, who were not covered by employment insurance, and who had applied for benefits, among others.
・ “Basic course” was common among junior high school graduates, who cohabited with their main breadwinner, with low income, whose most recent employment format had been part-time or arubaito, and who had long experience of non-regular employment, among others.
  1. Changes after taking part in training: When asked after the training whether they had gained the confidence to work in the training sector they had attended, just under 50% of respondents replied “Have gained some confidence”, followed by “Have gained a lot of confidence” with about 10%. The proportion of positive responses on confidence was higher among older and young participants, senior high school graduates, with no years of experience of regular employment, who attended the “Basic course” training sector. As a result of studying changes between before and after the training, all aspects of “Vocational skills”, “Life skills”, “Career awareness” and “Employment awareness” had basically changed in a positive direction. In general, changes in basic vocational skills, i.e. knowledge of specific industries, business manners, and PC skills, were greater among participants who had not previously had opportunities to amass sufficient vocational skills. Changes in daily life rhythm were significant among respondents with no family or experience of regular employment, whose daily rhythm could easily suffer a temporary collapse because they had no income due to unemployment, or because they were not in employment, among other reasons. The degree of change after taking part in training was large in both vocational skills and life skills among those attending the “Basic course”.

Table 2: Difference in changes after training, by training course sector

Image, figure1
  • Figures show the change after taking part in training (value after training – value before training). ** = Statistically significant difference at the 1% level, * = at the 5% level.
Image, figure1
  • Figures show the change after taking part in training (value after training – value before training). ** = Statistically significant difference at the 1% level, * = at the 5% level.
  1. Characteristics of respondents who found employment: In general, workplace conditions tended to improve after completion of training for groups of participants including females, young persons, persons with short experience (or no experience) of regular employment, or other participants who were more likely not to have been working under very favorable conditions before the training. Those who had already found work at least once at the time of the follow-up survey were most characteristically females with children, who were cohabiting with their main breadwinner, who had high incomes, short periods of looking for work and long training periods, and who attended courses in the nursing and welfare sector, among others.
  2. Results of free answers: Many respondents felt that they had generally improved their skills, saying they were “Glad to have taken part in the Job Seeker Support System”. In particular, statements were received to the effect that acquiring PC-related qualifications had expanded the range of desired occupations. Other responses were that receiving benefits had been reassuring as they made it easier to take part in training, that respondents were satisfied with exchanges between course participants as well as human relationships and friendships, that receiving the training had given them confidence, that the career counseling and etiquette lessons had been useful, and that their daily life rhythms had become regular. As for “The most difficult aspect of taking part in the Job Seeker Support System”, responses were that studying was hard, there were many tasks, it was difficult to balance participation with studying for qualification exams, etc. Responses were also received on the balance with daily life. On “Suggestions for improving the Job Seeker Support System”, requests were made in connection with the lesson content, the curriculum, and the quality of lecturers and tutors. Some said they would like to see more career counseling, vocational guidance, employment support, and others. Some responses suggested that the system should be made known to and used by more people.

Policy Implications

  1. On vocational training tailored to participants’ attributes in the Job Seeker Support System: This Research identified several types of participants in the Job Seeker Support System, with its combination of vocational training, employment support and benefit payments. Each type has its respective characteristics and background, and therefore, in order to provide training with higher learning effects, this Research suggests that training opportunities could be provided in a form tailored to the characteristics of each type. When providing vocational training, tremendous expenditure of funds and resources is required in order to develop the proper environment. As such, expanding training opportunities is not a subject to be discussed lightly. Nevertheless, it has been suggested that the theme of vocational training based on different participant characteristics, as an issue for long-term study, will be important when expanding public vocational training (and employment support) in future.
  2. On positive changes after taking part in the system, and the “Basic course” vocational training: It was confirmed that generally positive changes are seen after taking part in the Job Seeker Support System, and that, at least in terms of short-term changes in the participants’ awareness, generally good effects are obtained. Particularly for the participants of the “Basic course”, which mainly focuses on data input and basic PC operation, the degree of change after training was marked in nearly all aspects. As the Basic course is designed to train participants who lack sufficient basic skills needed for employment, this in itself is thought to be the reason why training effects at or above a certain level were obtained, even with short-term training. As a related result, meanwhile, significant improvements were also seen (mainly among participants in the Basic course) in skills broadly related to daily life, basic skills such as reading, writing and calculating that are common to all occupations, interpersonal skills including communication skills, and others after the training. The suggestion is that participation in the system in itself could go a long way to providing significant employment and career support, as well as vocational training.
  3. On the importance of benefit payments: At the time of the survey, about half of the participants were receiving benefits, but only about 5% responded that their purpose in using the system was to obtain benefits. Participants who used the system as a way of obtaining benefits were fewer than is generally thought, and participants in the Job Seeker Support System were generally motivated by a desire to receive vocational training and acquire vocational skills. However, many of the participants who received benefits took a positive view on the fact that a certain amount of benefits was available, in that this provided a living foundation and learning environment in which they could engage in training and learning with reassurance. Benefits have the function of creating an environment in which participants can devote themselves fully to vocational training, thereby raising the effectiveness of training and learning. The suggestion is that this aspect is one major characteristic of the three-in-one measure of vocational training + benefit payment + employment support.
  4. On more specialized vocational training, and relevance to the labor market: It was shown that a certain proportion of participants in the Job Seeker Support System would prefer to spend time on more advanced and specialized vocational training. Since participants in the system are so varied and diverse, they include many who already have abundant experience of regular employment and have acquired sufficient basic skills for employment. Thus, for this kind of target group, the possibility of providing more advanced and specialized vocational training needs to be explored. Moreover, the debate on vocational training in the developed nations of Europe is gradually turning attention to the importance of giving career guidance ahead of vocational training. But when giving career guidance ahead of vocational training to target groups who seek more advanced vocational training, the importance of guiding them to more appropriate training sectors and courses, in full awareness of their relevance to the labor market, is suggested as an issue that ought to be considered further in future.

Policy Contribution

This Research is expected to contribute broadly to policies for public vocational training and developing vocational skills, as well as to future study on the Job Seeker Support System. Part of the Research was used as material for a report to the 13th Meeting of the Central Training Council.

Main Text (only available in Japanese)

Research Category

Project Research: “Survey Research on Lifelong Career Formation Support and Employment Promotion”
Subtheme: “Survey Research on Lifelong Career Formation Support”

Research Period

April 2012 – December 2015

Author

Hideo SHIMOMURA
Senior Researcher, The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training
Toshizumi Muta
Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University

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