University of Leicester
2017SUNGYLDSocSci.pdf (3.79 MB)

How Do Older and Low-Skilled Workers Cope with Unemployment?

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posted on 2017-06-19, 11:39 authored by Yim Ling Sung
In Hong Kong, little is known on the role of government retraining in helping older and low-skilled workers cope with unemployment. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between Hong Kong's government retraining and psychological well-being among unemployed older and low-skilled trainees, and the effects of demographic factor (age and gender) on coping mechanisms. The results are based on qualitative interviews with 15 Chinese re-employed security guards aged 50+ after participation in the government retraining programme. The results showed that participants used both problem-focused coping (Hong Kong's government retraining) and emotion-focused coping (social support, escape, relaxation and leisure activities). Such retraining helped participants to meet their economic and psychosocial needs, and develop jobs skills for better well-being. Participants tended to be self-reliant and to rely on financial support from family members to save face. The results also indicated that men were less likely to use social support than women to share their emotional distress with others, and relied more on relaxation and leisure activities. The lower educated tended to take part in less social leisure activities than the better educated to regulate stress, and preferred relaxation activities at home. Following re-employment, the better educated felt more underemployed than the lower educated, whereas those in former high-status jobs used higher-level self-categorisation than those in former low-status jobs as a way to escape from their low-status security job. Overall, the findings show that features from the theories of Jahoda (1982), Fryer (1986) and Warr (1987) relate to well-being, and demographic factors (age, gender and education) and cultural factors (face-saving and self-reliance) affect coping mechanisms. These findings implicate the need to adjust the existing theoretical framework to be appropriate for Hong Kong Chinese society and to offer practical implications for policy and practice in the areas of retraining policy, gendered labour market, unemployment benefits, age-friendly working environments, retraining programmes and career counselling service aiming to enhance well-being and facilitate work re-entry of older workers.



Beck, Vanessa

Date of award


Author affiliation

Centre for Labour Market Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DSocSci



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