Experiences of the psychological contract, work engagement and life satisfaction of learners in the chemical industry
Swanepoel, Francina Johanna Petronella
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The rapid change within the South African workplace and competitiveness of organisations required employed and unemployed individuals to be trained and retrained as a large number of the South African population is unskilled. In the chemical industry employability of individuals is of extra ordinarily importance to both employer and individual. One of the main focuses of the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) is to enable learners through the promotion of employability to enter into learnerships to develop the necessary skills to develop sustainable livelihoods (CHIETA, 2011). There are high expectations of the learnerships system which was implemented during 2001 in South Africa. This system is set as a key strategic component of the National Skills Development Strategy, 2011-2016. Learnership programmes are implemented in South African organisations which is a great platform for employee development. Employees are afforded the opportunity to broaden their knowledge in the studied field and gain the needed skills within the organisation (Department of Labour, 1997). Learnerships are seen as a demand driven formal labour market tool, to address the existing need for critical, scarce - high and intermediate - skills levels. Simultaneously, it is seen as an employment-creation mechanism at the low and intermediate skills levels. This statement is a fundamental principle of a survey done on learnerships (Smith, Jennings, & Solanki, 2005). Researchers concluded that learnership programmes are the ideal for employees to acquire the needed skills to become competent and to provide jobs for the unemployed and in this manner enhance employability (Smith et al., 2005). The main aim of article one was to determine the differences in the levels of the psychological contracts, violation of the psychological contract, learners‟ expectations, employability, life satisfaction and work engagement between individual variables (type of learnership contracts, gender, race, age, date of commencement of learnership, date of completion of learnership). A cross-sectional survey design was used. A total of 237 learners completed the questionnaire. The psychological contract scale, violation of the psychological contract scale, learners‟ expectations scale, employability scale, life satisfaction scale, work engagement scale and biographical scale were administered. The results indicated that a statistically significant difference was obtained for age, date of commencement of learnership and date of completion of learnership, but no relationship exists with type of learnership contract, gender and race. The aim of the second article was to determine the relationship between learners within learnership psychological contract, state of the psychological contract, expectations and violations of psychological contract, employability, work engagement and life satisfaction. Furthermore, the study strives to determine whether violation of the psychological contract, learners‟ expectations and employability could predict life satisfaction of learners. A practically significant relationship with a medium effect exists between violation of the psychological contract, state of psychological contract (negative), and employability (positive). A positive practically significant relationship exists between state of psychological contract and work engagement. No relationship was found between employability, life satisfaction and work engagement. A positive practically significant relationship with a medium effect exists between life satisfaction and work engagement. Employer obligations and employability predict life satisfaction. The state of the psychological contract (trust) and life satisfaction predict work engagement of learners.