An investigation into the communication skills of unemployed young men

  • Natalie Elliott

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this study is to explore language skills in a population of unemployed young men aged 18-24 years registered on the Employment Zone (EZ) programme in Wales. Three phases of data collection were conducted between 2007 and 2010. In Phase 1 quantitative data were gathered on language and non-verbal IQ using standardised assessment tools. A structured interview was also administered to gather quantitative and qualitative information on contextual factors. In Phases 2 and 3, participants were folio wed-up with a telephone interview to investigate their
    employment status a) six months and b) two years following participation in Phase 1.

    Data from Phase 1 (N= 76) describe prevalence of language impairment which was found to be considerably above the 1 % prevalence reported as existing in
    the UK general population and the 2.02% - 19% reported in children (up to 88%).
    The specific nature of language impairment was evaluated using an assessment of non-verbal IQ, finding a high level of specific language impairment (34%) and nonspecific language impairment (54%). Self-report data on contextual factors were found to be comparable with those recorded in previous studies. Data on language skills were compared to employment outcomes in Phase 2 (n = 73) using t-tests. Associations between higher listening skills and ability to gain employment approached significance, and higher speaking skills were significantly associated with ability to gain employment, both with a medium effect size. Preliminary evidence from Phase 3 (n = 23) describe long-term employment outcomes, to inform potential future research.

    The results of this study provide evidence for the first time that there is an
    under-identification of language impairments in the study population, and generates provisional data on associations between language skills and ability to gain employment. This study sets the foundations for further research and policy development in the fields of communication impairments as well as unemployment. It therefore may contribute towards improved employment outcomes for people with communication impairments.
    Date of AwardMar 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRachel Iredale (Supervisor)


    • Men
    • Communication
    • Unemployed

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