New “welfare‐to‐work” programs increasingly provide clients with short‐term, communication‐intensive job training rather than financial assistance. Program administrators apparently believe that communication training is a useful tool for increasing client employment rates and reducing welfare dependence. This longitudinal study examined the success of a communication‐intensive job training program serving 101 largely indigent clients in an urban area. The communication characteristics of successful clients and the effects of the training on measures of communication competence were evaluated. About 40% of clients obtained full‐ or part‐time employment. Clients who obtained full‐time employment entered the program with higher scores on two dimensions of the Conversational Skills Rating Scale (CSRS), articulated more specific plans for employment interviews, and reported receiving more social support from members of their households. The training resulted in significant pre‐ to post‐test improvements on all four dimensions of the CSRS and four measures of communicative planning (for employment interviews). Results indicate that communication skill is a significant factor in predicting client outcomes. We conclude by suggesting several program improvements, including focusing on system‐level communication factors, providing long‐term social support, and increasing emphasis on post‐employment communication processes.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/melissa_lavitt/8/