Welfare Reform: Employers' Perceptions of Factors Associated with Virginia's Initiative for Employment Not Welfare


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Virginia Tech


Welfare reform has been an issue in America for many years. The need to make positive changes to the welfare system escalated to the point that federal legislation was passed in 1996. This legislation mandated that each state establish welfare-to-work programs and require that welfare recipients begin to work or face loss of benefits after two years. Virginia responded to this mandate through its Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW), which requires welfare recipients to seek work opportunities.

The purpose of this study was to examine employers' perceptions of factors contributing to their participation in VIEW and factors they felt affected welfare recipients' entry into the workforce. The theoretical framework of this study is based on two theories of organizational change: are the innovations and diffusion of innovations models. Interviews were conducted with twelve people who were in decision making roles in businesses that participated in VIEW. The following research questions were used to guide this study:

  1. What factors encourage employers to participate in Virginia's Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW)?

Interviews with employers were recorded, transcribed, and coded using the Nud.ist qualitative research software program.

Twelve factors were identified: mass media, social services agencies, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), other information sources, employability skills, qualifications, work experience, education and training, child care, lack of funds for transportation and appropriate clothing, welfare policies, and a support system or monitoring plan. The first four factors affected employers' decisions to be a part of VIEW; the others were factors they felt affected workforce entry.

This study confirms portions of the review of literature relative to research regarding factors that affect the entry of welfare recipients into the workforce. Two major conclusions emerged from the findings: the majority of employers interviewed suggested that welfare policies and child care significantly affected the employment of welfare recipients.

Further study is needed to determine what changes are needed in welfare policies and preparation for those entering the workforce. Research should involve both welfare recipients, employers, social services personnel, and job training providers.



employers' perceptions, welfare recipients, welfare reform