Academic Literature

Active Labour Market Policy (ALMP) – Reducing dispositional barriers to learning for groups that commonly report less proactive learning attitudes

Most active labour market policy (ALMP) research investigates potential socioeconomic consequences such as unemployment risks and earning potential but too often neglects potential cultural effects. When approaching ALMP research based on institutional and socialisation theory, researchers would expect that people internalise cultural and normative elements from their institutional environment.

This study set out to investigate how ALMP training effort at the macro-level is related to differences in learning attitudes at the micro-level. Most ALMP research tends to focus on potential socio-economic effects and utilise theoretical frameworks that are rooted in economic rational choice theories. To provide additional insight into the effects of ALMPs, we focussed on potential cultural effects in the form of attitudinal differences, and combined an institutional theoretical perspective with socialisation theory. The results of this study indicate that ALMP training programmes act as a socialising agent with regard to learning attitudes, which supports the idea that human capital theory is limited in explaining learning behaviour and attitudes toward learning and training. By bringing in additional theoretical perspectives, we can better understand the efficacy of ALMP training programmes.

Human capital theory assumes that social actors are rational egoists, which underplays the importance of social and cultural factors in explaining and understanding differences in learning behaviour between people of varying social groups. The importance of class and social reproduction is also excluded by human capital theory. However, we showed that one’s own educational level and the educational background of one’s parents influence one’s learning attitude later in life. We also showed that learning attitudinal differences tend to be smaller in countries that put more effort in ALMP training programmes in general, as we expected based on socialisation theory. This outcome supports the claim made by other researchers that macro-level institutional structures influence learning attitudes and behaviour. Both insights show that human capital theory is limited in explaining variations in the effects of ALMPs.

Besides accounting for overall ALMP training effort, this study also differentiated between ALMP classroom training and ALMP workplace training. We not only assumed that the amount of effort influenced learning attitudes but further that specific design features of ALMP training programmes might matter. Our results indicate that workplace training programmes seem to influence the relationship between the educational level of one’s parents and the learning attitude. This can be seen as an indication that the type of ALMP training programme, and workplace training in particular, reduces socialisation effects that originate from the primary socialisation phase and which are related to social class.

The insights of this study also suggest that ALMP training programmes can function as cultural platforms that contribute to a national culture that stimulates learning. Proactive learning is depicted in policy debates as a necessary means to capitalise on the transformation of the economy and reduce the reproduction of inequality. ALMP training programmes seem to reduce dispositional barriers to learning for groups that commonly report less proactive learning attitudes. ALMP training programmes can also act as cultural intervention to reduce the inequality of experienced barriers to participation in learning activities, which may eventually improve the labour market position of disadvantaged groups. Moreover, in the evaluation of ALMP training programmes, policymakers might include cultural performance indicators as assessment tools. Instead of solely focussing on socioeconomic criteria, potential cultural effects should also be evaluated because they might indirectly contribute to policy goals that are not specifically linked to the programme in question.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Full article: Active labour market policy as a socialising agent: a cross-national analysis of learning attitudes

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