Measuring Soft Outcomes and Distance Travelled: A Review of Current Practice

Dewson S, Eccles J, Tackey N D, Jackson A | Research Report RR219 | Department for Education and Employment | Jul 2000

Monitoring systems for employment programmes which target unemployed people have traditionally focused on 'hard', quantitative outcomes such as the numbers going into jobs or the numbers gaining qualifications.

There is growing recognition, however, that such measures taken in isolation are inadequate in demonstrating the success of a project as a whole. In addition, these 'hard' measures of success do not give a complete picture of a client's increased employability.

It is often both unlikely and inappropriate for many projects to expect to achieve 'hard' outcomes from target groups that are socially excluded and facing multiple barriers to employment. IES was commissioned to look at the use of 'soft', qualitative outcomes on projects funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).

This research involved carrying out a literature review and survey of ESF-funded projects to establish what has already been done in terms of developing systems to measure soft outcomes. One of the aims of the research was to use this information to develop a model for measuring these increases in employability or 'distance travelled' at a national level for projects delivering support under ESF Objective 3.