Transforming employment aspirations: results of the HIPPY tutors study

Labour force participation Mothers and employment Parenting and guardianship Women Australia

HIPPY is a two-year early learning and parenting program for children aged between 4 and 5 years from low-income families. It is largely delivered by a peer workforce of home tutors, mostly mothers who are completing the program themselves.

This study found that:

  • after HIPPY most tutors wanted to get another job in their community
  • through HIPPY, tutors built their skills, relationships and self-knowledge
  • tutors increased their job readiness and their self-confidence
  • tutors felt positive about contributing to their families and community.

Building parents’ capabilities is central to HIPPY’s impact on families. Employing home tutors who are parents in HIPPY promotes increased economic participation among women who have caring responsibilities for young children, giving them the confidence to pursue their personal goals and transforming their future job aspirations.

The HIPPY Tutors Study found that HIPPY creates a transitional labour market for the home tutors. Tutors also participate in a professional development program (Pathways to Possibilities) that incorporates the principles of substantive personalisation, recommended for effective employment services.

The study used an innovative online narrative collation tool that allows participants to interpret their own contribution before completing a traditional survey. The results confirm that HIPPY builds both tutors’ skills (human capital) and relationships (social capital). Importantly, the level of personal change reported by the tutors indicates that HIPPY also builds their psychological capital – that is, their self-efficacy, hope, optimism and resilience.

The combination of flexible work in a structured program that builds tutors’ personal agency and aligns with their values produces these results.

The intervention is distinctive among labour market programs in Australia, and its success contains lessons for the design of employment services for the same target group.

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