Technology for employability in Washington State: The role of ICT training on the employment, compensation and aspirations of low-skilled, older, and unemployed workers
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Do information and communication technology skills training programs improve employment opportunities for low-income, older, and unemployed workers? Do they improve wage levels? Aspirations? To answer these questions, researchers surveyed 454 people enrolled in programs provided by non-profit and public workforce-development organizations in Washington State between 2007 and 2008. The research revealed that programs that combined ICT training with soft skills and employment support services are more likely to reintegrate people into the labor market — even amid the early signs of an economic recession. After attending training, the percentage of participants with employment increased from 17 to 58 percent, with higher levels of ICT skills correlated to increased employment outcomes. Simply having access to a computer or the Internet at home (without training or support) had no effect on employment outcomes. Participants employed after attending training experienced on average a 20 percent increase in wages compared to average overall pre-training earnings; ICT skill level and frequency of ICT use at work were two of the most important factors correlated to wage increases. People with intermediate or advanced ICT skills experienced the largest increase in wages. Age also played a role: the older the worker, the lower the increase in wages. Finally, researchers found that ICT training programs influence aspirations — even for participants who remained unemployed. The vast majority judged the training as “important” to advance their employment situation and reported both an increase in self-confidence and a need for additional ICT training.
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