Observatory > The Observatory methodology > Survey of training recipients and control group

The aim of this task is to collect information from a sample of recipients of ICT-supported continuing VET, in the context of lifelong learning, in the seven participating countries (Hungary, Poland, Greece, Finland, UK, Spain, Germany), including employees of SMEs and micro-enterprises or self-employed persons in rural areas, as well as the unemployed who aspire in getting a job in the private sector. The information collected will build the “profile” of trainees using ICT within companies and outside them, regarding their socio-economic characteristics, including their aspirations and the contribution of this form of learning in their employment career and personal development. These recipients of ICT-supported training represent the “expressed” demand for this type of learning. A control group of people with similar socio-economic characteristics, working in rural SMEs or seeking work in rural areas will be also contacted, to establish the characteristics of the “latent” demand and investigate constraints, such as accessibility to ICT, access to lifelong learning, attitudes and culture. The information collected from the two samples will build the “demand section” of the Observatory, and will supply the basic material for the “user statistics” and the related databank.

The survey design will take account of the need to utilise two separate samples, one consisting of recipients (past or present) of ICT-supported lifelong learning (with emphasis on continuing VET) and one of non-users of this type of learning, as a “control group”. The main steps of the research methodology/design include:

a. Definition of detailed objectives, variables, hypotheses; and design of the survey questionnaire. Literature reviews conducted during the implementation of WP 2 and the Task 3.1 of the present WP will be utilised to inform the research design, as well as the results and conclusions derived from the Task 3.1, concerning the training providers’ experience and opinions on several issues affecting the trainees. Only indicatively, it may be mentioned that variables included in the research design will seek to build the socio-economic and career “profile” of trainees using ICT within companies and outside them, their aspirations from received or potential learning input using ICT, their options for access to lifelong learning, constraints and incentives, and the contribution or expected contribution of this form of learning in their employment career and personal development. Two separate questionnaires will be designed, one for the recipients’ and one for the control group. The questionnaires will be structured, including mostly questions with pre-coded answers. One or two open questions may be included, to give the respondents the opportunity to express what is important for them in their own words.

b. Drawing the sample. The sampling base for the recipients’ survey at national level will be derived through the training institutions contacted and interviewed during the providers’ survey. These institutions will be asked to make available to the survey the lists of previous participants to their training activities concerning employed and unemployed persons in the private sector in rural areas (mostly in small and micro-enterprises or self employed); if this is not possible due to confidentiality constraints, the institutions will be asked to e-mail the questionnaires to a sample of training recipients, according to the rules defined by the project team, and convey back to the project team the completed (anonymous) questionnaires The sample design will be based on a random selection criterion, using a stratified base. The strata will be defined by such criteria as geographical spread, type and size of enterprise where the recipient is working, employment status, successful or unsuccessful completion of the training course. A sample of 500-1000 recipients will be sought in each country, depending on the size of the country.

c. The sampling base for the control group will be derived from lists of enterprises (small and micro-) operating in rural areas, presumably through Chambers of Commerce or employers-self employed associations. With the enterprise’s permission, one or more employees will be contacted through e-mail, having first established that they have access to internet during their normal work duties and that they have not received continuing VET or other form of lifelong learning assisted by ICT. For reasons of economy, the control group may come from a single geographical region. A sample of 50-150 respondents is anticipated for each national control group, according to the size of the country.

d. Delivering the questionnaires through the internet. The questionnaires addressing the recipients’ and control groups will be translated to the national language of each participating country and delivered through e-mail directly from the project team; or via the training institutions providing the sampling base (recipients’ sample) and the social partners providing the control base. The completed questionnaires will be sent back to the national project team for analysis.

e. Producing a common design for the analysis of results for all partners. A number of tables and cross-tabulations will be specified, to test the research hypotheses and fulfil the research objectives. The codification and statistical analysis of the data will be conducted by each national team.

f. Writing the seven national reports, according to a common structure, specified by a list of contents and a list of tables and figures (Hungary, Poland, Greece, Finland, UK, Spain, Germany). Each national report will be presented in English and in the national language.

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