The quality of employment of early childhood development practitioners in the South African context : applying the capability approach
Ragadu, Suzette Cora
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This thesis explores the quality of employment of early childhood development practitioners (ECDPs) in the South African context from the perspective of decent work and the capability approach. Several aspects of employment quality are examined, including decent work, work capabilities, job demands, resources, a living wage, well-being, pay satisfaction, and intention to leave. The first study explored decent work, capabilities, and the flourishing of early childhood development practitioners in a South African context. The researcher conducted a cross- sectional study with a convenience sample (N = 436) of ECDPs in two South African provinces: Gauteng and Northwest. Apart from the biographical questionnaire, three measurement scales were administered: the Decent Work Scale, the Capability Set for Work Questionnaire, and the Flourishing-at-Work Questionnaire. Four capability sets were identified using latent class analysis: robust, relational, knowledge/skills, and weak capability sets. ECDPs with a robust capability set were more likely to report decent work conditions (psychologically safe working conditions, sufficient access to health care, sufficient free time, and complementary values) compared to those with knowledge/skills and weak capability sets. Furthermore, ECDPs with a weak capability set were significantly less likely than the other three capability sets to experience complementary values. In addition, the well-being levels of ECDPs with a robust capability set were significantly higher than those with a relational, knowledge/skill, and weak capability set. Furthermore, ECDPs with lower qualifications experienced a higher degree of well-being than those with higher qualifications. The second study examined the relationships between the job demands-resources profiles of ECDPs, their work capabilities, their level of work engagement, and their intentions to leave the profession. A cross-sectional survey was administered to a convenience sample of early childhood development practitioners (N = 426) in two provinces of South Africa. The measurement tools administered were the Job Demands-Resources Scale, the Capability Set for Work Questionnaire, the Work Engagement Scale, and the Intention to Leave Scale. Latent profile analysis was conducted, and four job demands-resources profiles were established: rich job (characterised by moderate job demands, good supervisor-coworker relationships, role clarity, access to information, and job security), poor job, resourceful job, and demanding job. A high level of work engagement and a low intention to leave the profession was observed among early childhood practitioners who were in rich jobs (rather than poor or demanding jobs) and could demonstrate strong capabilities. ECDPs’ job demands-resource profiles indirectly affected their work engagement and intentions to leave via their capability set. The third study examined demographic variables, decent work conditions, capabilities, and well-being to determine the quality of employment of ECDPs in South Africa. It was conducted using a cross-sectional survey among early childhood development practitioners in two provinces of South Africa (N = 426). The study included a biographical questionnaire, the Decent Work Scale, the Capability Set for Work Questionnaire, the Flourishing at Work Scale - Short Form, and the Pay Satisfaction Questionnaire. The results showed that two dimensions of decent work, namely a safe work environment and complementary values, predicted a large percentage of the variance in the work capability set of ECDPs. A safe work environment and the work capability set of staff predicted large percentages of the variance in emotional well- being and negative affect, and a moderate percentage of the variance in psychological well- being. Both dimensions of pay satisfaction (level and structuring) were best predicted by adequate compensation (a decent work dimension) and the work capability set. A significant finding of the study was that decent work variable safe work environment relating to interpersonal relations and physical safety in interactions together with the work capability set came out as vital elements to the well-being of ECDPs in South Africa.