JILPT Research Report No.198
Research and Development of Training Program Utilizing Transcript Analysis of Vocational Counseling and Referral Services:
Solution-Focused Approach

October 31, 2017

Summary

Research Objective

As part of a three-phase research project, the Department of Career Guidance worked to develop a training program to promote more effective and efficient communication for vocational counseling and referral services provided at public employment security offices (see Figure 1). The core approach to this project has been created to raise the awareness of employees working for public employment security offices (hereinafter, “employees”) in charge of the vocational counseling and referral process so that they could learn how to change the wording of their responses when communicating with job seekers, and in turn, put this learning into practice to improve counseling services. To verify this hypothesis, we conducted the training study outlined below in cooperation with the Labour College of JILPT.

In this report, we have summarized all the processes over the 14 years of this study, and we verified the effectiveness of the case study that forms the core of the training program. We confirmed the findings of the case study based on the responses of surveys completed by the employees in the training program. The findings of the case study support the idea that employees can learn how to notice issues with their own consultation styles by raising their awareness of the vocational counseling and referral process.

Research Method

“Training study” refers to the JILPT project in which researchers use the findings of their research on training provided to employees of labor-related government organizations who belong to the Labour College of JILPT to improve the content of said training programs, and in turn, utilize those results in their subsequent research. The methodology we adopted for this study was action research. [Note 1] Action research is defined as “an approach that aims to advance academic endeavors and improve society in a mutually beneficial manner by combining practical problems with basic research, and encouraging reciprocal stimulation between the two.” In a training study, training is defined as the key element that ties practical problems and basic research together.

Main Findings

  1. Research Background

    Papers and research reports published in Japanese as a result of this study are shown in Figure 1. The research topics for the four phases of this project are listed across the top of this figure, and the papers and reports published during each of these phases are listed below.

  2. Figure 1. Papers and Research Reports Published in Japanese at a Glance

    Figure 1

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    1. Development of the case study (Phases I - II)

      Using a transcript record of the conversation during the vocational counseling and referral process between employees and job seekers, we developed a case study that serves as a training program to raise employees’ awareness of the process in question and helped them think about how they could improve their responses to what job seekers say. In the initial phase of development for this case study, we used the career story approach as the model for vocational counseling and referral. This is a model in which employees treat job seekers’ careers as stories and assist them in devising their own career stories (hereinafter, “old case study”).

    2. Revision of the case study (Phase III)

      In Phase III, we moved away from the career story approach as we worked on developing a new training program that incorporated a solution-focused approach for centering to help job-seekers resolve the job placement issues they faced (hereinafter, “new case study”).

  3. Outcomes of the old and new case studies

    Starting with March 2005 (FY2005), the case study has been part of the curriculum of a Labour College of JILPT training course aimed at helping employees acquire advanced vocational guidance skills. The total running time of this training program is seven hours and 40 minutes. The program takes two days, with the interval of one to two weeks between the first and second days.

    To verify the outcomes of the new case study and compare the effectiveness of the new and old case studies, we surveyed the participants (i.e., the employees) after the conclusions of each day’s training (Number of participants: 57 on the old case study, 48 on the new case study). On both days, we asked the participants on both the old and new case studies to rank their satisfaction and whether they acquired useful information and knowledge on a seven-tiered scale (from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree”) to ascertain the effectiveness of the training. In the new case study, to ascertain learning outcomes, we surveyed participants about their ability to recognize problems on the first day and their understanding of applicable measures on the second day. In the old case study, we surveyed participants about their understanding of the interviews’ process by reviewing transcript record on both days. All of these questions had seven response options.

    To verify the outcomes of the old and new case studies, we looked at the percentage of total positive responses (i.e., the total of “Somewhat agree,” “Agree,” and “Strongly agree”) and found that they accounted for more than 90% of participants’ responses for the first day of both the old and new case studies. Slight differences between the old and new case studies were evident for responses concerning the second day. With the new case study garnering around 95% positive responses, a slightly lower rate (around 90%) for the old case study.

    These results suggest that, on the whole, employees were satisfied with both the old and new case studies and were able to deepen their understanding of the solution focused approach and the consideration of the transcript record while gaining useful information and knowledge about vocational counseling and referral services.

  4. Breakdown of positive responses on the new case study

    Looking at a breakdown of positive responses on the new case study(see Figure 2 and 3), between roughly 15% and 25% of respondents selected “Strongly agree” for the questions on satisfaction with the training (Day 1, 19.3%; Day 2, 22.8%) and the acquisition of useful information and knowledge (Day 1, 14.0%; Day 2, 24.6%). Meanwhile, only 7.0% chose “Strongly agree” for the question on the first day about the ability to recognize problems, and only 12.3% did so for the question on the second day about understanding applicable measures. These low rates indicate participants’ lack of understanding of the solution-focused approach.

  5. Figure 2. Outcomes of the new case study (Day 1)
    Figure 2

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    Figure 3. Outcomes of the new case study (Day 2)
    Figure 3

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  6. Comparison of the old and new case studies

    To evaluate the old and new case studies, we gave each of the seven responses from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree” a score of one to seven. Then, we calculated the total scores and tested them to see if there was a statistically significant difference. Upon doing this, we found there was no statistically significant difference between the old and new case studies regarding the training outcomes for the first day (p > .05 for both). Meanwhile, we found statistically significant differences between the old and new case studies for the second day of training. Scores were high for both satisfaction with the training (p <. 01) and the acquisition of useful information and knowledge (p <. 05) for the new case. The structure of the training program content on the old and new case studies was the same; the difference lay with the model used for vocational counseling and referral. In a word, when considering ways to improve the vocational counseling process, type of vocational counseling and referral TIPs [Note 2] applied are key. The higher evaluation of the new case study attribute to the switch from the career story approach which provides job seekers with referrals to actual job listings, to the solution-focused approach which helps job seekers identify the job placement issues they face and offers them the support they need to find solutions to those problems.

  7. Raising awareness of the vocational counseling and referral process

    As a preliminary assignment for both the old and new case studies, we asked participants to create a transcript record of a consultation and use it to grade their vocational consultations and referrals immediately upon their conclusion on a scale of 1 to 10. During the response analysis, a feature of the second day on both the old and new case studies, employees used Carritalk[Note 3] to conduct a detailed analysis of their conversations with job seekers when providing vocational counseling and referral services. Immediately after this, they graded themselves on a scale of 1 to 10. A score of 10 represents the employees’ best performance in providing counseling and referral services; one is the worst.

    After testing for statistical significance, we found significant differences between the two scores the employees gave themselves in both the old and the new case studies. In the new case study, the average self-reported score fell by 1.0 point between the point immediately after the consultation and the point after the response analysis. In the old case study, this same figure was 0.78 points. The employees are believed to have had no opportunity to carefully examine the vocational counseling sessions and referrals they handled between these two points in time, so it seems that when they analyzed the transcript record using Career Talk as part of the training program, it heightened their awareness of their own vocational counseling and referral process and made them aware of their problem areas. This, in turn, led them to give themselves lower scores the second time around.

Note 1. Nakamura, Yokichi. 1972. Shinrigakuteki shakai shinrigaku [Psychological Social Psychology] 177. Tokyo: Koseikan

Note 2. Here it is used to mean the little efforts made to adjust expressions and improve word use.

Note 3. Carritalk is a software that can be used to make transcript records of career consulting sessions. Career consultants can then use those records to analyze the features of the session and the dialogue process, and in turn, hone their expertise and improve their consulting skills.

Policy Contribution

As of December 2016, the case study was conducted 26 times, and a total of 1,048 employees participated. Surveys were conducted every session to assess the effectiveness of the training program. Almost all of the employees who participated were satisfied with the training program. They said they could recognize the benefit of using a transcript record to review and think about their own vocational counseling process and that they acquired information and knowledge that would be useful in vocational counseling; therefore, we have confirmed the effectiveness of a training program that uses a transcript record of services provided.

Main Text (only available in Japanese)

Research Categories

Project topic: Study on support for lifelong career formation and the promotion of job placement

Sub-topic: Study on job placement/employment matching and consulting

Research Period

April 2012 - March 2017

Authors

Jun KAYANO
Assistant Research Director, Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training
Sadamitsu KAMIICHI
Research Director, Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training

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