Multiple salient goals pursued by job seekers in mandatory continuing professional education

Anne Jacot*, Isabel Raemdonck, Mariane Frenay, Katrijn Van Deun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Continuing professional education (CPE) is viewed as the main strategy to tackle unemployment and to improve the weak position of jobseekers with few qualifications on the labour market. However, the mandatory nature of these programmes raises questions regarding jobseekers’ motivation to enrol for and engage in training and – by extension – the effectiveness of the programmes. Moreover, until now, researchers have failed to address the different personal goals that unemployed people bring to CPE. Yet goals are viewed as a central determinant of motivation and behaviour. To overcome these limitations, the purpose of this present paper is to investigate the content of the multiple goals that jobseekers with few qualifications pursue in CPE programmes and to examine the dynamics of multiple goal pursuit. Based on the taxonomy developed by Carré (1998, 2001), jobseekers were asked to rank a list of goals in order of importance when enrolling for the training. Next, an explorative multidimensional unfolding method was used to identify several subgroups of jobseekers, depending on the combination of salient goals that they strive for simultaneously. Particular attention is paid in this study to the impact of the mandatory context on the goals pursued by jobseekers (i.e. the dictated goal). Self-report data was collected from a sample of 112 jobseekers from seventeen social-professional education training centres. Results indicated that few participants attribute importance to the dictated goal, and that they pursue multiple goals, oriented primarily towards learning and to a lesser extent towards participation. In addition, four subgroups of jobseekers were distinguished, based on their different combinations of goals. Only one subgroup explicitly reported external pressure as a factor that motivated them to enrol in training. The implications of applying an approach whereby multiple goal pursuit by jobseekers is considered, and the impact of this multiple goal pursuit on their motivation in mandatory CPE programmes are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297–317
JournalVocations and Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Jobseekers
  • Mandatory training
  • Motivation
  • Multiple goal pursuit
  • Personal goals
  • WORK


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