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Languages: English
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The widespread assumption that human capital development through education and training will improve the economic capabilities of people is the basis throughout the industrialized world for various support programs to assist the unemployed to "adjust to the labour market" by returning to work, and contribute to the prosperity of the region. Substantial investment of public funding is made in anticipation of fulfilling those expectations. Such was the case in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the early 1990s when, after the closure of the northern cod fishery and the subsequent displacement of about 30,000 workers, several government income and adjustment support programs were initiated. This research project relied upon a case study approach to develop an understanding of the complex social phenomena associated with assisting the workers to adjust and evoking economic renewal in Newfoundland. The research went beyond the standard statistical economic indicators, based on the notion that human capital development happens to individuals in the context of their lives in their home communities. Gaining an understanding of the "actual changes" that had occurred in people's lives by recording their perceptions and stories was a significant feature in the project design. Documentation, key informant interviews and focus groups were the instruments used. Statistical evidence revealed that the province is a region of sporadic growth, persistently high unemployment, high part-time and seasonal employment, increasing transfer dependency, and declining population size, but with potential for economic turn-around. The perceptions of the research participants added much detail to that image and, perhaps more importantly, added further enlightenment as to what is required to enhance that potential and successfully move employment beyond the traditional economic mainstay of their communities, the cod fishery. The strongest theme which emerged in people's estimation of the renewal events required was the need for "an integrated approach" to development support. Both the literature reviewed and the research findings indicate that the relationship between human capital development and economic renewal is not simple cause and effect, but a far more complex, multi-faceted and synergistic relationship--that education and training can make an effective contribution to economic renewal of a region struggling with a depressed economy, but only as a component of an integrated package of strategic interventions. This thesis identifies potential elements in that package and proposes an accountability framework for evaluating its impact as a contribution to informed planning and decision making in both social and economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador.
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