Friday, August 7, 2009

ICT skills training and employment outcomes in Washington State | A brief note on the methodology

A couple of blogs ago, I briefly described the project we are working on in Washington State. We surveyed people who participated in ICT skills training between 2007-2008 at the organizations we selected in Washington State (NGOs, One-Stop shops, and Community Colleges). In total, we have 464 people in our sample representing five metropolitan areas in the State: Seattle, Spokane, Bellingham, Mount Vernon, and to a lesser extent Tacoma. Most of the people who responded to our survey have a high school diploma (42%), the rest continued to either 2 year (26%) or 4 year college (22%). The vast majority are women with an average age of 48 years old.

As in any other research, there are many limitations in this study that are worth discussing even if briefly. In the spirit of transparency and open research, the main limitations follow:
  • The sample is not representative of the population in Washington State nor it represents the universe of people that benefit from the services provided at these organizations
  • The ICT skills training, although basic, is designed and implemented in different ways and it varies in lenght, content, and teaching/learning approach.
  • People were asked in the survey to self-assess their ICT skills level
  • The motivations of trainees are very different (some enroll in the training by choice, others are required due to unemployment insurance benefits)
With this in mind, we confront the first research question head on: Did ICT skills training improve the employment opportunities of the people in our study? Did they find employment after the training, and if so, what can help us explain this positive outcome?

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