Denny, S., Hazenberg, R., Irwin, W. and Seddon, F. A.
Purpose – Evaluation of employment skills programmes (ESP) delivered by work integration social enterprises (WISEs) for the benefit of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) is often undertaken by the programme providers. This method of evaluation often lacks objectivity and academic rigour and tends to focus exclusively on output. The current study reveals programme outcome benefits for NEET participants after completing a six-week ESP, delivered by a WISE. The study highlights the participant perspective and adds an objective dimension to programme evaluation through an innovative, inductive evaluation process. Design/methodology/approach - The research adopted an intervention method, within a qualitative paradigm, employing semi-structured interviews conducted pre-and post participant engagement in the ESP. NEET participants were also asked to complete questionnaires designed to measure general self-efficacy and attitude to enterprise. The questionnaires were introduced in order to test the suitability of this type of questionnaire with NEET groups in future larger-scale studies. Findings - Analysis of the interview data revealed ten overall participant perception themes: ‘experience’, ‘self-confidence’, ‘the programme’, ‘perceived barriers’ and ‘maturity’ at Time 1 and ‘experience’, ‘self-confidence’, ‘the programme’, ‘enterprise’ and ‘future’ at Time 2. Outcome benefits are demonstrated through differences in participant perception themes revealed at Time 1 and Time 2. Relationships between participant perception themes and questionnaire constructs are discussed in the context of future larger-scale evaluations. Originality/value – Adopting an intervention method employing semi-structured interviews, allowed the participant’s to articulate the outcome benefits that were important for them rather than merely providing affirmation of programme provider’s expectations. Keywords – Evaluation, Validity, Enterprise Skills, Social Enterprise, NEETs Paper type Research paper