Congratulations to Dr. Nuala Whelan (MUSSI, Department of Sociology, and CMHCR member) who was awarded the prestigious Division of Work & Organisational Psychology (DWOP) Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) Early Career Researcher Peter Saville Award for Advances in Organisational Psychology​.on November 19th 2020.

The award is for Dr. Whelan’s research titled What works and for whom in Employment Services: the case for a Capability-led Work-Life Inspired Public Employment Guidance Service, funded by the Irish Research Council Coalesce project ACA PES (A Collaborative Approach to building Public Employment Services).

Unemployment has well-documented multiple impacts which affect well-being and re-employment. Yet government responses rarely focus on these challenges, concentrating instead on job search outcomes and monitoring behaviour. Employment guidance aims to bridge this gap but little is known about its effectiveness or its enabling mechanisms. A theory based realistic evaluation approach was used to observe, document and map practice in contracted public employment guidance services (N=8). A series of practitioner (n=12) and stakeholder(n=5) focus groups, and semi-structured interviews (n=16) were conducted to detail client needs, the guidance approach, and service goals. Analysis enabled the development of a conceptual framework for describing employment guidance, the personal and social barriers (e.g. housing, care), perceived self-related barriers (self-efficacy, hopelessness)and labour market skill barriers (human and social capital)experienced by job seekers, and the core mechanisms enabling positive employment related outcomes. In this post-covid era where many will have experienced unemployment related distress, understanding the mechanisms that promote positive mental health, re-employment, and career sustainability for all job seekers is fundamental in labour market policy and public employment service design.