Job Seeking And Experience Unemployment Social Policy
The purpose of this paper is to summarize and critique the article written by Colin Lindsay called ''In a Lonely Place? Social Networks, Job Seeking and the Experience of Long-Term Unemployment''. This article research is based on interviews conducted by 220 job seekers in Glasgow's two areas of highest unemployment and its aim is to discover whether ''long-term unemployed people in these areas struggle to access social networks for job search; and the extent to which long-term unemployment is in itself associated with a more general erosion of social/community relations and a withdrawal from what has been termed the 'tertiary sphere of sociability' (p25).
Colin Lindsay joined the Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University in 1999 with a firm grounding in research which he gained studying Political Science (MA, University of Glasgow) and European Social Policy (MSc, University of Bath). Colin Lindsay had carried out research on behalf of local authorities to the Scottish Executive and the European Commission which he published articles in a vast array of topics such as the Concept of Employability and Job seeking, along with polices to promote work from welfare and digital divide deficit which is what drew me to critically review this piece. Colin Lindsay in this articles touches upon all the range of issues he had studied and investigates the ''the relationship between access to social networks for job seeking, sociability and the experience of long-term unemployment'' (page 25). The article comes out at a time when the UK unemployment trend is homogenous with other western democratic countries; with unemployment being one of the main consequences of a recession.
The location of the study was Glasgow which is one of the UKs highest unemployed cities; Colin Lindsay gained his research data from two of the most destitute areas of the city. This is located in the north and southwest of the city in the towns of Springburn and Pollock which were areas within the government backed 'social inclusion partnerships' scheme which aimed to 'address social exclusion in particularly deprived localities (p28). when the study was taken claimant unemployment was 4.8%, compared to Scottish and UK figures of 3.2% and 2.6% (p28) according to Ian McConnell the business editor of 'The Herald of Scotland' in one year from February 2008 to February 2009, claimants in the Glasgow area increase by an alarming 41% which in return increased the claimant-count unemployment rate from 3.7% to 5.2% of the overall workforce of the area
The interview was taken place in jobcentre plus offices in the two areas. The research was derived through methodized face-face interviews of 220 claimants which replicate the population gender balance of those unemployed and claiming job seeker benefits, which at the time was 80% male and 20% female. The sample had an over representation of those who were unemployed for over a year which was nearly twice of Glasgow's average of 16%, at 33.3% of the overall sample. The interviews were taken place at an area which was comfortable for the interviewees to discuss issues away from staff and were split into two main themes one being the influence of social networks on job seeking and the other being 'the experience of long term unemployment and the tertiary sphere of sociability' (p31) which were determined by fixed and open, probing questions.
The results of the interview showed at first glance that social network is not the main catalyst to finding jobs, as the majority of the interviewees used forms of job finding which was more individualistic than social promoted like job centre points and newspapers maybe due to pure convenience the journal has not stated the questions from the interview so therefore, according to the research 92% of all the interviewees look at newspaper advertisements but does not state which ones. Via the study 65% of all interviewees use the jobcentre job points and 58% use the staff for advice. Direct approach is the last of independent action of job seekers, this has varied dramatically depending if the individual has been unemployed over or under one year, with only 27% of interviewees unemployed over a year would use the direct approach comparing to 51% of those unemployed under a year so 44% of all interviewees use the direct approach. A major flaw in the study, it doesn't include internet searching as a form job search, as this is one of the main forms of jobs hunting in the UK along with job agency sign ups.
Socially promoted job searching i.e. those who receive information by family members and/or work colleagues vary depending on whether or not the individual has been unemployed for under a year or over; undoubtedly social networks have a large influence on job searching. 53% of the sample use close friends and 40% use work related ties, out of this the long term unemployed individuals have reduced ties with former colleagues and work ties as just only 29% of those unemployed over a year use this source compared to 45% of those unemployed under a year.
By this point, the interviewee may look at newspapers on a weekly basis but there is a split of useful information depending on the newspaper the individual reads. An extreme example is, according to the household surveys of the social inclusion partnership scheme found that '49 per cent of Greater Pollock and 65 per cent of Springburn adults held no formal qualifications, compared to 41 per cent of Glasgow adults' (p28) reading job sections in maybe the guardian or times newspaper would be inadequate, simply because the jobs in there are for highly educated individuals and are whole uk based. Local news papers, have a limited amount of job space in them so maybe a handful of jobs are targeted, so maybe if there was 100 jobs in Glasgow which meet the specification of the interviewees and 10 of those jobs end up in the news paper, those 10 jobs have a higher view rate than the other 90 therefore may have a large percentage more applicants. The use of job centre staff and job points maybe due to convenience, if the benefit collection point was not in the job centre would it be as popular?.
The study revealed that there was a contrast between those in long term unemployment and short term unemployed in the participation in the tertiary sphere of sociability; this was derived through questions in regards to engagement of regular social activities. Participation rates in social activities on a weekly basis, as only 11% of long term unemployed individuals took part with only 26% of those unemployed under a year. Colin Lindsay quickly applied one of the logical links with that of the theory that the reduction of sociability due to the reduction of income. Schooling have been looking to readdress this by promoting physical exercises with 90% of pupils taking part in at least two hours of this along with out of hour school sport a week which is on an increase by at least 21% from 2004/05 (ons website) this is an investment for the future as it could influence habits. According to European household panel survey data Gallie et al. (2003) believed that a reduction of participation in the tertiary sphere of sociability is not due to with unemployment but to do with social exclusion from communities.
Colin Lindsay admits even though the study is small further research on how long-term unemployment may accentuate the experience and impact of social isolation (p31). The study would need to be compared to similar studies in other areas in the UK to therefore be able to compare, for example the sample was taken in one of the most unemployed areas in UK, a second parallel study should be taken in a 'medium' or 'average' area within the UK and finally an area with relatively low unemployment and compare the findings of the interview. Maybe there are various other externalities which have not been reviewed or compared for example of local council based policies incentives which increase participation. Various studies in other areas will also give an insight to social participation of people in different areas i.e. the area may have many more local 'leisure centres' where facilities and classes are cheaper than gyms in areas of high participation that that of the two areas studied by Colin Lindsay therefore there is an incentive to increase participation. The claimant count form of unemployment was used, this therefore excludes those over 55, people under 18, those on government training schemes, married women who are looking to return to work and those who simply are not claiming benefits but under circumstances this is obviously the only resource which is the most viable and accessible.
In the study article there is no indication or examples of questions Colin Lindsay used in his interviews. We are therefore unable to evaluate whether or not there is question bias by the interviewer. Also there is evidence of sample error, because there are only 220 interviewees which are not representative of 4.8% of unemployment level 17760 which could be rounded off to 177 individuals. The sample is equal to gender but not to age maybe it would have of been easier to delegate a certain amount to Long term unemployed an equal amount to short term unemployed and a set amount to be divided between the two with an age variance.
In conclusion it is evidential that sociability is dependent on multiple factors for example unemployment and income. The study needs to be expanded so it will be able to have comparisons and therefore adequately be able to evaluate government policy initiatives whether they are working or not. The study will need to be taken again after the recession to see whether overall conditions in the area are improving in line of the UK average. It is interesting to what Colin Lindsay's next study in his field will be hopefully it will be a more probing investigation into social influences on employment.Bibliography
- Gallie, D., Paugam, S. and Jacobs, S. (2003), 'Unemployment, poverty and social isolation: is there a
- vicious circle of social exclusion?', European Societies, 5, 1, 1-32.
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