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Employment services that help new arrivals at Hong Kong from Mainland China.

To help new arrivals at Hong Kong front Mainland China to secure a living, employment services play an essential role. However, the key to success of these services is far front transparent. The present study is therefore necessary to elucidate the successful paths in terms of four approaches, namely, the developmental, efficacy, person-work fit, and person-centred approaches. It collected data front 152 new arrivals having used services of the largest employment service in Hong Kong. Results indicate that these service users' experiences of the four approaches differentially contributed to their outcomes in knowledge, social integration, satisfaction, and effort related work, and perceived helpfulness of the employment service. Moreover, their combined experiences of the four approaches identified three levels, with the highest level engendering the most favourable outcomes. On the other hand, the user's experiences of the service approaches partly emanated from counselling, networking, and facilitating services rendered by the employment service. The counselling service, its particular, could bolster the user's work satisfaction directly and indirectly through its contribution to the user's experience of the person-work fit approach. In all, the employment service can hold the four approaches as the guidepost for its service delivery.


Obstacles and inadequate adaptation to employment are problems prevailing among immigrants (Li 2000). These people necessarily need formal services that help them accommodate to the labour market (Chow 1999). Moreover, these services need to relieve immigrants' strain experienced from problems in assimilation, discrimination, over-qualification (Buriel and De Ment 1997; Duvander 2001; Freeman 2000; La Lande and Topel 1991; Landale and Oropesa 1999). Their work participation is especially desirable, with the retrenchment of public welfare and encouragement of workfare instead (Brandon and Tausky 2000). For fostering immigrants' work adjustment, many forms of services can be in use (Chow 1999), but their relative effectiveness and effective components are largely unclear. Clarification of the working approaches to helping new immigrants is therefore the purpose of the present study that involves new arrivals at Hong Kong from Mainland China.

New arrivals from Mainland China are subject to careful screening and have to queue up for a long time before coming to Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong has been a Special Administrative Region of China since 1997, it imposes an immigration policy to limit the number of new arrivals from Mainland China to a quota of 150 per day. Hong Kong is relatively small and crowded, compared with the Mainland, yet attracts scores of Mainland inhabitants to settle there. Many eligible arrivals are family members of inhabitants in Hong Kong, and many of whom marry women in the Mainland. Despite their prior enthusiasm and optimism to settle in Hong Kong, new arrivals tend to face difficulty in assimilating to Hong Kong, whose sociocultural context is patently different from that in China. The arrivals' past qualification and experience may have little use for their employment in Hong Kong. For instance, the use of English and speech in Cantonese are obstacles to them because native people in Hong Kong prefer and can speak only Cantonese. Evidently, new arrivals need formal training on these daily skills. As such, they can benefit from employment services available 'in Hong Kong. The service rendered by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, which represents all social service agencies in Hong Kong, appears to be the largest service of its kind. When this service generously collaborated in the study in 1999, it had served more than 1,000 new arrivals since its commencement in 1996.

More than giving a panoramic description of the tasks done by the Employment Service of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, the study examines the effectiveness of service approaches provided to and experienced by service users for their work adjustment. The outcomes of work adjustment under investigation are the user's knowledge about the labour market, integration at work, satisfaction with work, effort to work, and evaluation about the helpfulness of the employment service. These outcomes are presumably responsive to the services provided by the employment service, including counselling, networking and facilitating. Moreover, the outcomes supposedly result from the user's experience of service approaches in terms of developmental, efficacy, person-work fit, and person-centred approaches. How the services delivered and approaches experiences contribute to the user's outcomes is the focus of the present study.

Research and Theory in Perspective

Promoting the new arrival's knowledge, integration, satisfaction, and effort represents a holistic way to develop the arrival's sustainable work adjustment. The developmental approach clearly suggests that finding a job for new arrivals is insufficient and strengthening their capability for work is the crucial concern (Jepson 1990; Seligman 1994). This capability should also include the arrival's integration with other people and the life at work (Bankston and Zhou 1995). Accordingly, social integration related to work can be an effective means to sustain the arrival's assimilation such that social support can accrue even in the absence of work. Social integration is valuable also to contribute to the new arrival's social identity (Horenczyk and Tatar 1998; Kosic 2002). As a whole, knowledge, integration, satisfaction, and effort are essential concern for the life cycle in one's career (Savickas 2002). Acquisition of knowledge about jobs would be a crucial first step to bolster information processing in career decisions (Krumblotz and Nichols 1990; Peterson et al. 2002). Besides, satisfaction with work is an integral component of the worker's well-being (Efraty et al. 2000). It also tends to maintain effort for work (Hanlon 1986; Mortimer and Lorence 1989). Work effort in turn would be a means to generate production and income, which are necessary to uphold a living (Pang and Watkins 2000). Apart from the work-related performance, the service user's evaluation about the helpfulness of the employment service would register how the service contributes to the user's work adjustment. Even though users may not find opportunities to realise their work involvement, they may experience the help from the employment service in some alternative ways, such as in the process of job search. Therefore, the user's evaluation gauges one's potential contribution to work (Guterman and Bargal 1996).

The employment service renders counselling, networking, and facilitating services to service users. Counselling refers to the individualised service to help the user adjust to work (Tang 1995). Networking refers to liaison with the user's family and employer to help the user adapt to work and social lives (Smith 2000). Evidently, fostering contact about work is instrumental to one's involvement in work, which is especially remarkable in Chinese culture (Bian 2001). Facilitating refers to training for promoting the user's abilities and skills for work (O'Connell 2002). These services respectively address the user's personal, social, and work concerns. Even though the work concern seems to be the primal issue for the employment service to tackle, personal and social problems directly or indirectly related to work necessarily come along with work problems. A responsible and holistic employment service needs to relieve these problems as well (Chow 1999).

The developmental, efficacy or social-cognitive, person-work fit, and person-centred approaches to employment service build on ample theoretical and research grounds. Their experiences by the service user are likely to foster work adjustment. The developmental approach assumes that life-span development is crucial for helping the user not only to adjust to work but also to empower the user's adjustment to life (Super 1990). This approach has the tasks of promoting the user's exploration and exposure to work, freedom, self-control, and actualisation of potentialities (Jepsen 1990; Seligman 1994; Super 1990). It furthermore aspires to help the user balance between work and family and benefit to society (Jepsen 1990; Savickas 2002). Through the approach, the user undergoes processes of growth, exploration, and actualisation. The user has to learn how to sacrifice and compromise concerning personal interest and acceptable jobs (Cottfredson 2002; Seligman 1994). A problem of the approach is therefore the feasibility of matching ones interest and concern with the job (Super 1990).

The efficacy approach has its basis on social learning or social-cognitive theory (Seligman 1994). Rational informal processing capability and storage are important concerns for the exercise of the approach. The approach aims at building up self-efficacy, involving problem solving, decision making, goal setting, self-observation, modelling, predicting, generating alternatives, seeking information, planning and generalising, and other information processing practices (Krumblotz and Nichols 1990; Mitchell and Krumblotz 1990; Seligman 1994). They foster a feeling of success through reinforcement and reward. The approach tries to eliminate dysfunctional belief systems and replace them by living systems involving knowledge, directive cognition, regulatory evaluation, and control procedure (Krumblotz and Nichols 1990; Seligman 1994). Upgrading the individual's metacognition or executive processing system about self-awareness and self-monitoring is also essential (Peterson et al. 2002). A problem would creep in from the premise about rationality when people do not always adhere to rational principles.

The person-work fit approach rests on the value of consistency in one's life and work (Chartrand et al. 1995; Seligman 1994). Its tasks include fostering the individual's flexibility in reducing dissonance between person and work, activeness in changing work, reactiveness in changing self, perseverance in tolerating incongruity, congruence between work interest and job choice, fitting to others' expectation and behaviour, and fit between demand and ability and need and supply involving the self and work (Brown 1990; Fitzgerald et al. 1995; Rounds and Tracey 1990; Seligman 1994; Spokane et al. 2002). A problem of the approach is its simple assumption about the person's single choice and reasoning, which may be unrealistic in the sophisticated interaction between person and environment (Rounds and Tracey 1990). Accordingly, personal interests may be highly differentiated and in flux, and unlikely to fit into a job.

The person-centred approach rests on the value of realising one's potentialities in assertive and social ways (Bozarth and Fisher 1990). Accordingly, human nature would be social and committed to power assertion. The individual, rather than the group, is the focus of the approach. Such an approach emphasises the building of trust, self-esteem, acceptance, actualisation, integrated relationship, empathic understanding, and personal identity in the user (Bozarth and Fisher 1990; Seligman 1994). Solving concerns unrelated to work is also integral to the person-centred approach. Apparently, the approach may encounter a problem from providing assistance in too many facets to make it manageable.

Research has shown that a worker's knowledge about jobs would accrue with training or facilitating services that promote the worker's knowledge (Sogunro 1997). Indirectly, services that strengthen workers' ability tend to also raise their knowledge about jobs (Schmitt and Chan 1998). As such, the approaches of development, efficacy, and person-centeredness are likely to be conducive to the user's knowledge acquisition.

Integration at work necessarily depends on the work setting, which in turn benefits from the networking service (Shih 1998). Accordingly, the service can help find a work setting congenial to the user, especially when sociocultural proximity is essential to the immigrant's integration (Freeman 2000; White and Glick 1999). Coworkers and supervisors present in the work setting determine and are involved in the integration (Hurlbert 1991; Rosner and Tannenbaum 1987). Besides, one's language fluency is conducive to integration at work (Smith 2000). Programs that enhance the new arrival's Cantonese and English use would therefore bolster work integration. Facilitating services and the developmental approach that perform the training task would thus offer a relevant contribution.

The person-work fit approach tends to be particularly germane to the user's job satisfaction because the fitness of satisfaction is the focus of the approach (Warr 1987; Lee and Mowday 1987). Making the job an interesting one through the approach would promote the user's job satisfaction (Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza 2000). Moreover, congruence in needs between the person and jobs is a focal area for the promotion (Harris et al. 2001). Besides, the person-centred approach that elevates the user's self-pride through skills utilisation would be salutary to job satisfaction (Aryee and Luk 1996; Rossi 2001). Relieving job tension through counselling and the person-centred approach would maintain job satisfaction in the user (Howard 1992; Rodriguez-Maria et al. 1992). Alternatively, the efficacy approach that enhances the user's problem solving ability is also likely to enhance job satisfaction (Aryee et al. 1999). Networking services and the developmental approach that foster integration within the work setting and outside it can also lead to job satisfaction (Melchiori and Church 1997). Reducing family-work conflict through these services and approaches appears to countenance job satisfaction (Aryee et al. 1999). At any rate, job satisfaction necessarily depends on support arising from the work setting (Aryee and Luk 1996; Cnaan and Cascio 1999).

Effort put into work most clearly benefits from one's sense of efficacy (Pang and Watkins 2000; Yoon 2001). As such, the efficacy approach would have a notable contribution to the user's work effort. Also from the approach is the contribution to goal setting, which thereby indirectly bolsters the user's work performance (Locke and Henne 1986). Similarly, training and facilitating services that raise the user's knowledge and efficacy can have the same benefit (Schmitt and Chan 1998). On the other hand, pressure from work would deter work performance (Gallie et al. 1998). As such, counselling and the person-centred approach that temper the pressure would sustain job performance. Empowerment of the user's general ability in the approach can spill over to enhance the user's work performance (Guterman and Bargal 1996). Mobilising organisational support through networking is another way to boost the performance (Eisenberger et al. 1990). For instance, teamwork may be such a means (Griffith 2001). Assigning suitable workers to the team would be a precondition for bringing out the benefit that hinges on networking.

In all, there are theoretical and empirical reasons for the contribution of various services and approaches in the employment service to the user's work adjustment. Thus, the following three research hypotheses would be a plausible guide for the investigation.

Hypothesis 1: A user's experiences of developmental, efficacy, person-work fit, and person-centred approaches enhances the user's knowledge, integration, satisfaction, and effort related to work.

Hypothesis 2: A user's reception of counselling, networking, and facilitating services enhances the user's knowledge, integration, satisfaction, and effort related to work.

Hypothesis 3: A user's experiences of developmental, efficacy, person-work fit, and person-centred approaches arise from the user's reception of counselling, networking, and facilitating services.

In the course of testing Hypothesis 1, synergistic effects due to the combinations of approaches are also of particular concern (Golembiewski 1986; Johanson 2001). The synergistic effect refers to the interaction of more than one approach that engenders an additional effect beyond those derived from each of the approaches. A simple manifestation of the interaction is the identification of clusters of experiences of the approaches. A cluster is the empirically derived configuration of a consistent pattern of experiences of the approaches applied to a considerable number of people. As hypothesised, these clusters would lead to extra effects on the user's work adjustment.


In 1999, 152 new arrivals from Mainland China who participated in the Employment Service hosted by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service responded to a structured survey questionnaire for the present study. These new arrivals arrived at Hong Kong within the three recent years. The study put every effort to ensure that the respondents were representative of those having a job and not having a job, receiving services either through the Core Course on Job Search Skill for New Arrivals, personal counselling, or self-learning by using facilities provided by the Employment Service. Accordingly, the sample comprised respondents participating in various programs of the service. Moreover, to ensure valid responses to the questionnaire, a mature interviewer, graduated from social work study, carried out the survey interviews. Apart from the survey, workers of the Service filled out a checklist to indicate services rendered to each of the respondents. The workers had completed their checklists during the time of some earlier case reviews, independent of the present study. Thus, the checklists provided some archival data to combine with data provided by the users to illustrate the impact of the Service.

The sample of new arrivals was aged from 16 to 64, with an average of 30.7 (see Table 1). Their average work experience in Mainland China was 2.3 years. Most had a secondary level of education (69.1%). About half of them had spouses in Hong Kong (55.9%). Their duration in the Employment Service ranged from 0 to 828 days, with an average of 121 days. In the Service, they variously used its job seeking service, training courses (e.g., computing, accounting, English), lectures (e.g., human relation, grooming), and other activities (e.g., travels, visits). They could attend the Service in the day and/or the evening. All had some work experience during and after their use of the Employment Service.


Service approaches received by the user involved 16 items indicated by the responsible worker of the Service (see Table 2). These yes/no items identified counselling, networking, and facilitating through an exploratory factor analysis with principal component extraction and varimax rotation. The three factors explained 51.0% of the original variance in the 16 items. Besides, the internal consistency of the three composite factors was adequate: counselling (6 items, [alpha] = .800), networking (5 items, [alpha] = .733), and facilitating (5 items, [alpha] = .599).

Service approaches experienced comprised 20 items reported by the user. These items (see Table 3), adapted from various sources (Seligman 1994), were representative of the developmental (Jepsen 1990; Super 1990), efficacy (Krumblotz and Nichols 1990; Mitchell and Krumblotz 1990, person-work fit (Chartrand et al. 1995; Rounds and Tracey 1990), and person-centred approaches (Bozarth and Fisher 1990). Responses to these five-point rating items had scores ranging from 0 to 100, with 0 for "very little," 25 for "rather little," 50 for "average," 75 for "rather a lot," and 100 for "very much" in the experience during the service. The composite scores of the experiences were reliable: developmental (5 items, [alpha] =.771), efficacy (5 items, [alpha] = .811), person-work fit (5 items, [alpha = .764), and person-centred (5 items, [alpha] = .764).

Outcomes, in terms of knowledge about the job market, integration at work, satisfaction with work, effort put at work, and evaluation in terms of helpfulness of the Employment Services, relied on the same five-point rating scale as above. Concerning experiences in the recent month, they combined items adapted from various sources: work integration (Segal et al. 1989), work satisfaction (Eichar 1989; Martin and Shehan 1989), and work effort (Blackburn and Mann 1979). Their composite scores were acceptable in reliability: knowledge about the job market (5 items, [alpha] = .732), integration at work (4 items, [alpha] = .661), satisfaction with work (5 items, [alpha] = .714), effort to work (2 items, [alpha] = .537, [alpha] = .367), perceived helpfulness of the Employment Service (3 items, [alpha] =.799).

In addition, the study obtained prior scores of the outcomes by asking respondents to indicate their knowledge, integration, satisfaction, and effort at work prior to using the Employment Service. These questions were: "How knowledgeable were you about the labour market? (knowledge)" "how good was your relationship with local workers? (integration)" "How satisfied with your work in Hong Kong? (satisfaction)" "How good were your job performance? (effort)" There was no prior score for the evaluation of the service because there was no such possible experience.

Analytic Procedure

Hypothesis testing relied on a series of regression analyses that predicted service outcomes and service approaches experienced. In predicting each of the five service outcomes, the analysis entered predictors sequentially in four steps. The first step entered the prior score of each outcome and any other significant background predictors, from the pool including age, sex, duration in service, and so on (see Table 1), using stepwise selection procedure (p < .05). In testing Hypothesis 2, the second step entered approaches used, according to service workers, as predictors. On top of the included predictors, Step 3 tested Hypothesis 1 with the four approaches experienced. Alternatively, Step 3' tested the same hypothesis using the cluster indicators (discussed in the Results section) of service approach experiences. Regression analysis also tried to control for all significant background predictors, when examining effects of services used on service approaches experienced. This was the test of Hypothesis 3.


Facilitating services appeared to be the most prevalent approaches rendered to the users of the Employment Service (M = 90.1). Among these services, assessing the user's employability (96.7%) and exploring the areas of concern (96.1%) were the most prevalent. Apparently, facilitating services were routines for every user. Next to facilitating services were counselling services (M = 77.4). The most prevalent counselling service was counselling the user on expectation of employment (87.5%). Counselling services were therefore moderately (69.7%) to highly (87.5%) common among users. The least common services were networking (M = 24.9). These services ranged from communicating with family members (14.5%) to encouragement for family communication (42.8%).

The experiences of the four approaches, developmental, efficacy, person-work fit, and person-centred were roughly the same on average (Ms = 64.4-72.1). Among the experiences of the developmental approach, understanding of job demand was the most likely (M = 70.9). In contrast, realisation of strengths was the least likely (M = 55.4). Among the experiences of the efficacy approach, enhancing ability to seek a job was the most likely (M = 70.7). In contrast, setting up social skills at work were the least likely (M = 61.9). Among the experiences of the person-work fit approach, recommending jobs according to needs were the most likely (M = 72.4). In contrast, the experience about the fit of service to interest was the least likely (M = 65.9). Among the experiences of the person-centred approach, caring was the most likely experience (M = 84.8). In contrast, resolving possible family problems was the least likely experience (M = 49.0).

The patterns of the experiences of the four service approaches identified three clusters, according to the K-means clustering procedure. In the use of the procedure, it appeared that obtaining three clusters would be optimal to maintain adequate distance among the clusters and having; sufficient respondents classified into each of the clusters. Hence, extracting four clusters would result in a small cluster and extracting two clusters would have clusters too close to each other. The resultant three clusters turned out to identify three levels of service approaches experienced. Accordingly, the high-approach cluster had high experiences in all the approaches (Ms = 77.0-84.2, see Table 4); the medium-approach cluster had experiences at medium levels (Ms = 58.6-66.9); the low-approach cluster had experiences relatively lower (Ms = 34.8-45.8). These findings illustrate that the experiences of the four approaches tended to be consistently high or low. There was no detectable combination of more experiences in one approach and fewer in another.

As regards the outcomes, effort to work was the highest (M = 86.3, see Table 5), especially about the ability to be punctual at work (M = 89.2). The next favourable was evaluation of the helpfulness of the Employment Service (M = 76.2), especially in terms of enjoying the continuous use (M = 78.4). Integration at work was the third favourable outcome (M = 74.1), especially in terms of respect for the superior. In contrast, satisfaction with work and knowledge about the job market were only modest (Ms = 53.0 & 46.1). The highest knowledge, that about ways of job seeking was only at a modest level (M = 52.0).

Hypothesis 1 attains support from the significant effects of the experiences of the four service approaches on the five service outcomes, based on Step 3 of regression analysis. The results indicate that one with greater experience in the efficacy approach was significantly higher on integration at work ([beta] = .545, Table 6) and knowledgeable about the labour market ([beta] = .249); one with greater experience in the developmental approach was significantly higher on effort to work ([beta] = .281) and the perceived helpfulness of the Employment Service ([beta] = .298); one with greater experience in the person-work fit approach was significantly higher on satisfaction with work ([beta] = .288); and one with greater experience in the person-centred approach were significantly higher on the evaluation of the Service ([beta] = .311). All these effects tended to be substantial, even given the control for the prior scores of the outcomes. Among the effects, the contribution of the efficacy approach on integration at work was the highest. The only contradictory finding was the negative but not significant effect of the experience of the developmental approach on integration at work ([beta] = -.238). Besides, the person-centred approach was the only one that did not emit a significant contribution to work adjustment outcomes, apart from evaluation of the Employment Service.

Hypothesis 1 again finds support in terms of the cluster indicators of the three levels of approach experiences combined. According to Step 3' of the analysis, high approach experience was significantly predictive of all the outcomes, relative to low approach experience. Besides, one with medium approach experience was significantly higher on effort to work ([beta] = .510), integration at work ([beta] = .344), and the perceived helpfulness of the Service ([beta] = .442) than were those with low experience in the four approaches. The findings show that the effects of high approach experience Avere stronger than were those of medium approach experience. Hence, high experience with all the four approaches would have the best outcomes for the service user.

Comparing findings from Step 3 and Step 3' suggests that the experience clusters tended to offer additional effects over the effects of individual approaches on effort to work and evaluation of the Employment Service. That is, the effects of the two cluster indicators were comparatively stronger than were those of the four individual experiences.

Hypothesis 2 obtains less support than does Hypothesis 1. Only counselling offered led a significant effect on satisfaction with work ([beta] = .164) and engendering a significant effect on evaluation of the Service ([beta] = .194). Services rendered to the user therefore did not demonstrative pervasive contributions to the user's outcomes.

Hypothesis 3 concerning the correspondence of approaches offered and experienced finds some support. Most notably, facilitating services significantly upheld the user's experiences of the developmental ([beta] = .166, see Table 7), efficacy ([beta] = .173), and person-centred approach ([beta] = .236). The networking service significantly contributed to experience of efficacy approach ([beta] = .125) whereas counselling significantly generated experience of the person-work fit approach ([beta] = .180). Taking findings supportive of Hypotheses 1 and 3 together illustrates that services provided to the user could indirectly produce the user's work adjustment outcomes.

In all, most findings are consistent with the three hypotheses and thereby indicate the contribution of services rendered and experienced to the new arrival's work adjustment. The approaches were unlikely to yield negative outcomes for the user. On the other hand, none of the background characteristics (i.e., those in Table 1), except prior scores, was a significant predictor of any of the outcomes. Thus, variation in the backgrounds was unlikely to explain away effects of services provided and experienced.


Significant results supportive of Hypothesis 1 tend to indicate that the efficacy approach was most effective for raising the new arrival's knowledge and integration about work in Hong Kong. In contrast, the person-work fit approach showed the strongest effect on the new arrival's satisfaction with work. This is a finding consistent with the expectation that the person-work fit approach is mostly responsible for raising the worker's satisfaction (Aryee and Luk 1996; Rossi 2001). Another contrast is the relatively higher contribution of the developmental approach to the new arrival's work effort. The exception is the null finding about the contribution of the person-centred approach to work adjustment, apart from that to the evaluation of the Employment Service. Another aberrant finding is the negative effect of the developmental approach on the new arrival's integration at work. These patterns of findings, however unexpected, are justifiable in view of the nature of the approaches.

Services Received by Users

The efficacy approach appears to be good at promoting knowledge and social behaviour in the work place. This finding would be consonant with the principles of social learning and social cognition (Mitchell and Krumblotz 1984, 1990; Seligman 1994). Accordingly, modelling, learning, attention to people, and building up knowledge are all essential processes involved in the efficacy approach. On the other hand, the approach is inadequate to engender satisfaction and effort at work. These findings may reflect the absence of committed concern of the efficacy approach for raising the user's satisfaction and performance. Obviously, the affective aspect of satisfaction is outside the concern of the efficacy approach. For another, hardworking or work motivation may involve affective components that are not amenable to the influence of the efficacy approach. Thus, whereas the efficacy approach is meritorious for strengthening the user's cognition or information processing, it may not take sufficient care of the user's affective dimensions. Thus, the approach would run into the rationality trap, without curing the emotional trauma.

The person-work fit approach has its principal concern for the worker's satisfaction with work. Reducing incongruity or dissatisfaction with work is an adage of the approach (Brown 1990; Fitzgerald et al. 1995; Rounds and Tracey 1990; Seligman 1994). However, the approach is weak or even making trouble in the worker's knowledge acquisition, integration, and effort related to work. Probably, overemphasis on congruity and affective fitness may be antithetical to the strengthening of social cognition, which is the favourite of the efficacy approach. Furthermore, the person-work fit approach may not contribute to work effort because it lacks a motivational incentive to induce the effort. Apparently, the approach accommodates and satisfies the self, without fostering its potential for work performance. Thus, the approach seems to be a conservative one, not committed to the transformation of the person for greater accomplishment.

In contrast, the developmental approach embraces the lofty goal of transformation of the individual for the benefit of society (Gottfredson 2002; Savickas 2002). Accommodation to the environment is not the principal mission of the approach. Instead, the approach aspires to maximise the individual's self-fulfilment and fulfilment of one's roles in society (Jepsen 1990). Knowledge acquisition, social integration, and probably satisfaction at work are only means to achieving the developmental end. The approach ignores cognitive, affective, and social well-being accruing to the worker, in favour of the realisation of developmental benefits to the worker and society. As such, the approach would result in enduring improvement in individuals, probably reflected in their evaluation of the service. In this connection, the approach is not desperate in attaining short-term success in the user's work. Rather, it sustains long-terms helpfulness that goes beyond the immediate work setting. Moreover, the developmental approach tends to lead to the user's poorer integration at work. Probably, it has raised the new arrivals to a higher developmental level that is incompatible with their co-workers. Personal development thus tends to be solitary, because it relies on autonomy (Copeland and D'emidio-Caston 1998; Jepsen 1990).

The person-centred approach contributes to the favourable evaluation of the Service, but does not help work adjustment. Apparently, the approach consolidates the relationship between the Service and service user, without providing direct guidance for the user's work involvement. Having a focus on the person (Bozarth and Fisher 1990), the approach may overlook the person's work. Moreover, the approach extends to improve the person's life as a whole and relatively neglects his or her work life.

However, the four approaches combined can yield a more remarkable contribution to the user's outcomes than the individual approaches. Users who had high experience in the four approaches obtain highly favourable outcomes in all aspects. The findings illustrate the mutual reinforcement of the approaches in generating the most favourable outcomes. Given the unique contribution of each approach outlined above, the synergy of their contributions is plausible. At least, the approaches can complement shortcomings of each other and thus better outcomes emerge. In all, the trend reveals that greater experience of the four approaches consistently results in better outcomes, probably except that in social integration at work. The inability for the synergy of approaches to boost social integration ahead may stem from the fact that social integration depends on co-workers and other people in the workplace in addition to the new arrivals. Even though the new arrivals got help in improving their sociability, they would not enjoy social integration with native workers who had not benefited from the Employment Service.

Services Provided by the Service

As regards service approaches provided by the Service, counselling appears to be a key to the new arrival's work satisfaction. This linkage merely reflects the central goal of counselling to promote the worker's satisfaction (Lofguist and Dawis 1984). Nevertheless, counselling does not demonstrate an appreciable contribution to the new arrival's knowledge and integration related to work. Clearly, counselling is not a direct service to enhance the user's knowledge about the job market. Moreover, personal counselling would not yield much benefit to social integration that depends on co-workers and others in the workplace. The contribution of counselling also manifests in its promotion of the experience of the person-work fit approach. This approach in turn is chiefly responsible for the new arrival's work satisfaction.

Facilitating services appeared to result in the favourable evaluation of the service. This finding reveals the contribution of facilitating to empowerment and long-term development. It is consistent with findings concerning the effects of facilitating services to the experience of developmental, efficacy, and person-centred approaches. These findings demonstrate the input of facilitating services to the development, efficacy, and empowerment of the service user. The exception is the null effect of facilitating services on the experience of the person-work fit approach. Hence, the person-work fit is clearly a result of counselling rather than facilitating and networking.

Networking exhibited no significant effect on the new arrival's outcomes. Nevertheless, it appeared to raise the user's experience of efficacy. Ostensibly, networking services mobilise social support from work and family for the user and elevate the user's efficacy (Gecas and Seff 1989; Yoon 2001). The promotion of collective efficacy involving the conditions at work and family may be responsible for the experience of self-efficacy (Goddard and Goddard 2001).

On the other hand, the correspondence of services offered by service workers and approaches experienced by service users was selective and weak. The finding reveals that services rendered to service users are not necessarily impressive and influential. Besides the discrepancy of views between service providers and service users, reasons for the low correspondence could involve time and memory differences and selectivity. Whereas service workers filled out the form after providing the services, service users only reported their experiences during the survey. Service users' experiences could be susceptible to the interference of events after their reception of services. Those service users receiving particular services might also be different from others and probably had more pre-existing problems. That is, both service users and service workers select each other in the use of services (Pierce 2000). This might be a reason that services given to them had only a weak impact on them.

Despite the availability of significant expected effects of services received and provided on various aspect of work adaptation, most of the effects were not significant and some of them were contradictory to expectation. The general finding is that no single service approach is consistently instrumental to the new arrival's employment. This general finding echoes the recent observation about the limitation of various approaches employed to empower the working person individually (Cook et al. 2002; Guindon and Richmond 2005). The individualistic approach cannot cope with barriers imposed structurally and collectively, such as employers' discrimination and societal disdain. As such, a contextual, ecological approach is necessary to tackle societal and organisational barriers (Yu 2006). In view of this, even individualised approaches would benefit from taking an ecological perspective to enhance the individual's bargaining power to overcome structural barriers (Schomann and Becker 2002). Along this line, the constructivist approach that encourages the individual to counter exploitation and maltreatment exerted by employers and other authorities would be helpful Guindon and Richmond 2005). By sensitising the individual toward social forces, the approach helps the individual construct personal paths to career success. The approach avoids the passive role of conventional individualised approaches that subjugate the individual to environmental demands.

Further Research

Further support from service providers is necessary to verify the findings with greater rigor, which hinges on a larger sample, triangulated measurement, and prospective and preferably experimental designs. The small sample in the study prohibits refined analysis for new arrivals with different characteristics. It may also fail to ascertain effects that are small but real. Self-report measures obtained from service users and service providers would be limited because of their one-sided views. Further research can make improvement in measurement in collecting measures from different informants about the same outcomes and service approaches to enable the triangulation and validation of the measures. The cross-sectional design, using retrospective reports of prior scores, may not be rigorous to reveal true causal processes uncontaminated by later events. Besides, the service inputs might not be evenly available to service users when both service users and providers selected the use of services. As such, a means of random provision of services would be necessary to eliminate the problem of selectivity. Such random assignment can also apply to delineating effects of each of four approaches and their combination. Regarding the outcomes, measures can include reports from the employer, family member, and service worker, in addition to the user's self-report. They would allow for examining the impact of the services on different stakeholders.

Further research can investigate and elaborate the differential impacts of different approaches on different outcomes revealed in the present study. The differential impacts tend to register a pattern in which the efficacy approach is more responsible for the input to work involvement (i.e., knowledge and integration), the person-work fit approach responsible for the process of work (i.e., satisfaction), the developmental approach responsible for the output of work (i.e., effort), and the person-centred approach responsible for long-term development. Moreover, combination of the approaches can generate synergistic effects because of the differential effects of the approaches. This integrated framework of approaches of employment service requires further examination and verification.

The generality of the findings also requires further research to substantiate. Apparently, the findings may best apply to new arrivals at Hong Kong from Mainland China. The common ethnicity of new arrivals and native Hong Kong people might expedite the effectiveness of the employment service. Nevertheless, it is a conjecture that is in need of empirical verification. To gauge the extent to which the findings can generalise to other immigrants, a culturally more diverse sample is required to recruit immigrants from different sociocultural backgrounds. Sociocultural similarity can then be an explicit variable examined for creating differential effects. Such a further study can therefore delineate the scope for the application of the present findings. Before the cross-cultural verification, the present findings probably hold true for those migration and resettlement involving immigrants and hosts of the same ethnicity.


Different employment service approaches can have differential impacts on different outcomes of new arrivals. The efficacy approach would be more effective for raising their knowledge and integration, the person-work fit approach for promoting satisfaction, the developmental approach for inducing effort, and the person-centred approach for consolidating help in various aspects. In addition, the combination of the four approaches can create better results, as the approaches are unlikely to cancel out effects of each other. As such, the employment service can have good reason to commit itself to the implementation of the four approaches. These approaches can serve as the goals of delivering counselling, networking, and facilitating services. The goals are necessary to improve the unplanned work, which only routinely provides training on some vocational skills. In the light of either one of the four approaches, the employment service can develop a long-term perspective to promote not just fashionable knowledge and skills about work, but also foster sustainable work and life development in new arrivals. Accordingly, the service should develop their social-cognitive skills in processing information in the job market and workplace, including that of their co-workers to foster social integration at work. The service should also assess and accommodate new arrivals' work interest and prepare for their flexibility, activeness, reactiveness, and tolerance for misfit between person and work. Furthermore, the service should equip the new arrivals with self-consciousness to realise their potentialities and serve the host society. The person-centred rather than group-centred approach is necessary to take care of the new arrival's all-round development and well-being inside and outside work. These four approaches preferably permeate various services and activities of the employment service, including self-help activities run by new arrivals.


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Chau-kiu Cheung, Raymond Man-hung Ngan and Wing-tai Chan

City, University of Hong Kong
Table 1: Means or percentages of background characteristics (N = 152)

Characteristic                                             Mean or %

Age (16- 64 years)                                              30.7
Female (%)                                                      84.2
Work experience before arrival (0-24 years)                      2.3
Education (1-5, representing below primary, primary,
junior secondary, senior secondary, and postsecondary)           3.7
Spouse in Hong Kong (%)                                         55.9
Spouse in the Mainland (%)                                       6.6
Spouse in another place (%)                                      1.3
No spouse (%)                                                   36.2
Having children (%)                                             57.2
All children in Hong Kong (%)                                   45.4
Some children in Hong Kong (%)                                   5.9
All children in the Mainland (%)                                 5.9
All children in another place (%)                                0.7
Duration in service (0-828 days)                               121.3

Table 2: Percentages regarding service approaches received

Item                                                              %

Counselling                                                      77.4
  Counselling the user on expectation of employment              87.5
  Establishing an intervention plan with the user                80.3
  Strengthening the user's psychological preparation             78.9
  toward employment
  Clarifying the user's misconception related to employment      76.3
  Helping the user to adjust to the new job                      71.7
  Evaluating the user's performance and adjustment with          69.7
Networking                                                       24.9
  Encouraging the user to communicate with family members        42.8
  about his/her decision for employment
  Referring the user to apply other social service               25.7
  Negotiating with the employer for the benefit of the user      23.0
  Helping the user to improve his/her relationship with          18.4
  family members
  Communicating with the user's family members or significant    14.5
  others and empowering their independence
Facilitating                                                     90.1
  Assessing the user's employability                             96.7
  Exploring the areas of concern                                 96.1
  Providing information and knowledge related to employment      94.1
  like the resources of job hunting, nature of job, and
  labour law
  Arousing the user's self-image                                 86.2
  Providing training to enhance the user's employability         77.6

Table 3: Means of experienced approaches

Item                                                            Mean

Experience of service based on the developmental approach       64.4
  Understanding of job demand                                   70.9
  Understanding of different kinds of work                      68.5
  Understanding of oneself                                      67.1
  Development of potential                                      61.0
  Realisation of strengths                                      55.4
Experience of service based on the efficacy approach            64.5
  Enhancing ability to seek a job                               70.7
  Enhancing ability for work                                    63.7
  Setting up work goals                                         63.6
  Setting up adequate expectation of work                       63.3
  Setting up social skills at work                              61.9
Experience of service based on the person-work fit approach     68.9
  Recommending jobs according to needs                          72.4
  Understanding of your needs                                   70.4
  Recommending jobs according to interest                       69.5
  Understanding of your interest                                66.5
  Service fitting your interest                                 65.9
Experience of service based on the person-centred approach      72.1
  Care of you                                                   84.8
  Feeling happy                                                 83.8
  Enhancing confidence                                          71.0
  Understanding                                                 67.9
  Resolving possible family problems                            49.0

Table 4: Means of  three clusters

Experienced approach     High      Medium      Low
                       (n = 65)   (n = 71)   (n = 16)

Developmental           77.95      58.59      35.39
Efficacy                76.98      59.82      34.84
Person-work fit         81.46      62.64      45.63
Person-centred          84.21      66.94      45.83

Table 5: Means of experiences about work and the employment service

Item                                                     Mean

Knowledge about the labour market                        46.1
  Knowledge of ways of job seeking                       52.0
  Understanding of the employment condition              47.5
  Knowledge of skills for job interviews                 46.0
  Knowledge of work culture                              46.0
  Understanding of labour regulations                    40.3
Integration at work                                      68.1
  Respect for the superior                               80.8
  Emphasis on cooperation with other workers             72.5
  Enjoyment of working with native workers               71.2
  Willingness of serving clients                         71.2
  (little) Liking of working alone                       45.2
Satisfaction with work                                   53.0
  Satisfaction with the job                              64.2
  (little) Feeling unfit for the job                     55.0
  Willingness to recommend relatives and friends to      54.7
  do the same job
  Fitness of the job to expectation                      50.4
  (little) Wish to seek another job                      43.5
Effort to work                                           86.3
  Ability to be punctual at work                         89.2
  Working hard to attain good work performance           83.0
Helpfulness of the Employment Service                    76.2
  Enjoying use continuously                              78.4
  Helpfulness of service                                 77.2
  Adequacy of service                                    73.5

Table 6: Standardised effects on experiences about work and the
employment service

                                Knowledge    Inte-    Satis-
                                about the   gration   faction
          Predictor              labour     at work    with
                                 market                work

Step 1: Prior score
  Corresponding prior score      .171 *     .257 *    .263 *
Step 2: Offered approach
  Counselling                    .063       .011      .164 *
  Networking                    -.084       .183 *    .015
  Facilitating                  -.010       .038      .036
Step 3: Experienced approach
  Developmental                  .123      -.238     -.043
  Efficacy                       .249 *     .545 *   -.053
  Person-work fit                .238      -.140      .288 *
  Person-centred                 .085       .143      .057
Step 3: Experienced approach
  High approach (vs. low)        .293 *     .473 *    .226 *
  Medium approach (vs. low)      .063       .344 *    .072
[R.sup.2]                        .114       .330      .250

                                   Effort to   Helpfulness
                                     work        of the
          Predictor                            employment

Step 1: Prior score
  Corresponding prior score          .076          --
Step 2: Offered approach
  Counselling                        .118         .138
  Networking                         .038         .017
  Facilitating                      -.051         .194 *
Step 3: Experienced approach
  Developmental                      .281 *       .298 *
  Efficacy                          -.027         .130
  Person-work fit                    .142         .021
  Person-centred                     .112         .311 *
Step 3: Experienced approach
  High approach (vs. low)            .837 *       .931 *
  Medium approach (vs. low)          .510 *       .442 *
[R.sup.2]                            .232         .514

* : p < .05

Table 7: Standardised effects on experienced service approaches

Predictor       Develop-      Efficacy     Person-      Person-
                  mental                   work fit     centred

Counselling        .072         .026        .180 *       .089
Networking         .033         .125 *      .006         .042
Facilitating       .166 *       .173 *      .054         .236 *
[R.sup.2]          .039         .061        .035         .058

* : p < .05
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Author:Cheung, Chau-kiu; Ngan, Man-hung Raymond; Chan, Wing-tai
Publication:International Journal of Employment Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9HONG
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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