CoAct has been successful in winning a grant through the Australian Research Council (ARC) to undertake a landmark study of how informal and formal networks of unemployed Australians affect their odds of gaining employment.
The research is in partnership with the University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Wollongong.
CoAct's partnerships and development general manager, Kary Macliver, said the researchers will focus on long-term unemployed and youth job seekers, two groups that are seen as the most disadvantaged in the Australian labour market.
"The study is about discovering evidence-based solutions to increase wellbeing and employability among Australia's unemployed," Ms Macliver said.
The research team includes lead researcher, associate professor Gaby Ramia of the University of Sydney's Graduate School of Government, and co-investigators Louise Ward (CoAct), Greg Marston (Queensland University of Technology), and Roger Patulny (University of Wollongong).
Through surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups with job seekers and employment service providers the research team will answer vital questions about Australian long-term and youth unemployment, such as:
- Do job seekers have smaller, weaker and less diverse networks?
- Do formal networks compensate for the lack of job referrals and help given by the friends, family and social connections of long-term job seekers?
- How do formal networks compensate for the less effective informal networks of long-term job seekers through support, training and maintaining wellbeing?
- How do formal networks compensate for, or overcome negative connections and bad role modeling?
Informal networks refer to the relationships that job seekers have with others, primarily family and friends. Formal networks refer to the relationships that job seekers have with service providers, including employment services.
Kary Macliver said CoAct's focus is to assist disadvantaged Australians reconnect with employment quicker and this research will assist them to improve their services, as well as offer recommendations to government, employers and industry on effective ways to improve the employability of job seekers.