ASPIRATIONS AND DECISION-MAKING COMPETENCE IN THE ACHIEVEMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION OUTCOMES: A STUDY OF BOYSTOWN'S SOCIAL ENTERPRISES FOR AUSTRALIAN YOUTH
1 Griffith University and BoysTown (AUSTRALIA)
2 Australian Catholic University (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:The rate of young people (15-24 years) in Australia who are not engaged in full-time education or employment remains consistently higher than the national unemployment rate. Various Government, academic and not-for-profit sectors in Australia are starting to recognise social enterprise programs as a potential solution to the unemployment issue, particularly for target groups such as disadvantaged youth. These programs are operated in a real-life work environment where participants can develop vocational and employability skills through experiential learning as well as receive added support to address personal barriers to employment and education. Furthermore, the work of these programs is conducted to provide benefits for the community. Social enterprise programs are predominantly funded by Government and delivered by not-for-profit agencies with a social mission. BoysTown is one such organisation that delivers social enterprise programs specifically for disadvantaged young people. These young people have a history of long-term unemployment, limited work experience, intergenerational unemployment, low levels of formal education, and welfare support. In order to investigate the processes of social enterprises and the outcomes for its participants, BoysTown collaborated with Griffith University on an Australian Research Council linkage project entitled, “Reconnecting Disaffected Youth through Successful Transition to Work”. In this mixed method study, the survey data from 542 participants in BoysTown’s social enterprise programs indicated not only high rates of positive employment and education achievements, but also significant improvements in personal development areas such as functional literacy and numeracy, communication, teamwork, self-esteem, substance abuse and antisocial behaviour. The themes from semi-structured interviews with 40 of these participants supported these results. An integral finding of this research project was that improvements in decision-making competence and the refinement of job, life and financial aspirations had flow-on effects for young people’s achievement of employment and education outcomes. Hence, BoysTown can target the key point of engagement and increase the positive outcomes for young people in its social enterprise programs.
Keywords: Social enterprise, youth, research project, aspirations, decision-making, employment, education.