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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Job displacement and its implications for adult education and retraining policy : subtitle the case of Hong Kon Ma, Andrew Y. B.

Abstract

The study explores the economic returns to adult education and retraining for displaced workers and highlights policy implications in the case of Hong Kong. The study addresses four broad questions: (1) What is the social and economic profile of displaced workers? (2) What are the earnings effects, if any, of adult education and retraining? (3) What determines reemployment after retraining? (4) What do participants think about the effects of adult education and retraining? The design of the study attempts to bridge possible gaps between rates of returns analysis and interpretation of the subjective views of individual workers. Rates of returns analysis generated the following results: (1) participation in adult education explained earnings premiums pre-displacement but the payoff was not carried forward to reemployment; (2) earnings effects of work experience were reported at all stages—from pre-displacement through reemployment—but experienced workers had greater difficulties in re-entering the job market; (3) a gender bias in the earnings profile was identified; and (4) employer sponsorship explained earnings premiums for reemployed workers. Analysis of the views of stakeholders and participants in retraining revealed eight major themes: (1) workers intentions to re-enter the job market, (2) outcomes and shortcomings of retraining programs, (3) barriers to adult education and training, (4) growing concerns about changing labor market requirements, (5) perceptions of discrimination, (6) training following reemployment, (7) understanding of the need for lifelong learning, and (8) concerns for changes in retraining policy. Stakeholders did not always agree in their views and opinions of the benefits of participation in retraining programs. Learners questioned whether employers were genuinely interested in recruiting displaced workers from retraining programs, and employers argued that the onus was on displaced workers to take the initiative and demonstrate adequate skills and a positive attitude, in order to meet the requirements of employers. To synthesize individual perspectives and aggregate rates of returns analysis, issues were reframed in terms of questions about how to: (1) recognize the multiplicity of goals of adult education and retraining as an integral part of the lifelong learning system, (2) retrain displaced workers to maintain their long-term employability, (3) rectify the market failure represented by the mismatch of jobs, barriers and discriminations to access to jobs, and (4) enhance greater commitment of employers to the promotion of continuing education and workplace learning. Finally, the reframed questions were cast in terms of policy implications for adult education and retraining related to displaced workers. Needs were identified in the following areas: (1) recognition of non-earnings outcomes to widen the spectrum of planning and development of adult education and retraining, (2) formulation of a qualification framework to recognize work experience and keep experienced workers employable, (3) realization of a close monitoring system to match the demand and supply of skills, and (4) involvement of employers to support education and training and maintain an efficient and equitable access for employees.

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