Organisations regularly collect and use data for various purposes. Some organisations require evidence for accountability purposes to measure if the organisation or programme is meeting established standards. Other times, evidence serves more of a learning purpose and supports continuous improvement.
A questionnaire was developed as part of the monitoring activities of He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR), an initiative funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. As part of their service delivery, funded community groups were asked to administer a questionnaire with their engaged young people. The questionnaire was designed to help HPR providers understand the strengths of young people and identify areas requiring further support. It was also intended to measure and track progress towards their ability to sustain employment over time. The 20 questions + answers (as a composite score) would represent growth towards the ability to sustain employment.
The intended use of questionnaire data highlights the importance of having accurate information. If the scores misrepresent a young person’s ability to get into and sustain work then inappropriate decisions might be made that could have negative effects on them. For example, they may be placed into work too early to simply get them into a job, which may have a lasting negative impact on their future employment opportunities. Having inaccurate information may be worse than having no information at all.
Sustaining employment requires more than just technical skills and ability; it requires having your fundamental needs met, a good attitude and overall health as well as a supportive connections. A test instrument was developed around 20 such indicators to examine how well equipped young people were to sustain employment. This instrument was then administered by HPR providers working with youth across four New Zealand regions. Standard of Proof applied the Rasch unidimensional measurement model to the resultant data, checking the psychometric properties and determining the extent to which there is sufficient justification for intended use and interpretation of the data derived from the questionnaire. More importantly, the Rasch model produced diagnostic information, identifying and then testing modifications to the questionnaire so that it can better measure the trait – here, the ability to obtain employment.
The initial results confirmed the modified questionnaire provides a reliable scale with stable measurement properties of internal consistency. The results also showed this scale, as a total score, demonstrated a very strong relationship with employment.
Organisations and community groups working with young people may use this instrument to help them estimate needs and monitor the progress of their young people working towards sustained employment. As such, the brief analysis and the questionnaire instrument are provided here: Youth Employment Pathway questionnaire_Final