02 SES 06 B, Meaning of Work, Vocational Self-efficacy and Employability
The construct ‘self-efficacy’ reflects a person’s belief to be able to attain one’s goals, even if impediments exist (Bandura, 1997; Schwarzer, 1994). Bandura points out that these beliefs are learned through life experiences and assumes that these beliefs strongly influence both people’s motivation and their decisions. In contrast, low self-efficacy is in line with fears, depression and low self-esteem (Bandura, 1991). Self-efficacy can be related to different domains in life, e.g. to one’s beliefs concerning vocational competencies, and studies show that it is linked with job performance (Sadri & Robertson, 1993). Thus, for young trainees in Vocational Education and Training (VET) it is indispensable to develop vocational self-efficacy to become skilled employees.
In Germany, the dual system of VET provides theoretical learning in schools as well as practical learning in companies. There, young people are part of the company’s staff performing ‘real’ working tasks. Consequently, they have lots of possibilities to gather positive work experiences. Bandura stresses the relevance of successful experiences for the development of self-efficacy: “Successes raise efficacy appraisals; repeated failures lower them, especially if the failures occur early in the course of events and do not reflect lack of effort or adverse external circumstances (Bandura, 1986, p. 399).” Once a high level of self-efficacy has been established it prevents people of being struck by failures: “People who are assured of their capabilities are more likely to look to situational factors, insufficient effort, or poor strategies as the causes [of failure] (p.399).”
Literature reveals the importance of the working environment for the employees’ motivation and performance. Looking at theories from industrial psychology the Job Characteristics Model has become very popular as it offers a theoretical framework to predict work outcomes through task design (Hackman & Oldham, 1975). More precisely, the factors determining work outcomes are skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. In addition, the social interactions between colleagues, the trainers and the trainees are expected to be relevant for self-efficacy, because social interactions may provide a lot of feedback to the trainees’ performance and may strengthen their self-concept. Finally, excessive demands in the workplace are expected to inhibit a positive self-efficacy.
Thus, it can be expected that the aforementioned factors of the working environment contribute significantly to the development of self-efficacy. This paper examines which factors are the most relevant for the development of vocational self-efficacy in trainees in technical professions.
Abele, A.E., Stief, M & Andrä, M.S. (2000). Zur ökonomischen Erfassung beruflicher Selbstwirksamkeitserwartungen – Neukonstruktion einer BSW- Skala. Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie, 44(3), 145-151. Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action - A Social Cognitive Theory. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: W.H. Freeman. Hackman, J. R. & Oldham, G. R. (1975). Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 159-170. Sadri, G. & Robertson, I. (1993). Self-efficacy and work-related behaviour: A review and meta-analysis. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 42(2), 139-152. Schwarzer, R. (1994). Optimistische Kompetenzerwartung: Zur Erfassung einer personellen Bewältigungsressource. Diagnostica, 40(2), 105-123.
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