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Can sector strategies promote longer-term effects? Three-year impacts from the WorkAdvance demonstration (Schaberg 2017)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Schaberg, K. (2017). Can sector strategies promote longer-term effects? Three-year impacts from the WorkAdvance demonstration. New York: MDRC. [Towards Employment]

Highlights

  • The study's objective was to examine the impact of the WorkAdvance sectoral training program on year three employment and earnings outcomes. This profile focuses on the evaluation at the Towards Employment site. The authors investigated questions for other sites, the profiles can be found here.
  • The study used a randomized controlled trial to compare the year three outcomes of the participants that received the WorkAdvance program at the Towards Employment site and the control group that did not receive WorkAdvance services. Using Ohio unemployment insurance wage data, the authors compared earnings and employment outcomes between the groups.
  • The study did not find any significant differences in employment or earnings outcomes between the WorkAdvance program and control groups.
  • This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the WorkAdvance program at the Towards Employment site, and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects.

Intervention Examined

WorkAdvance

Features of the Intervention

WorkAdvance was a sectoral training program that provided education and training in high-demand fields. WorkAdvance included five components: intensive prospective participant screening; preemployment and career readiness services applicable to the target sector; sectoral occupational skills training; sectoral job development and placement services; and retention and advancement support post-employment. Towards Employment, a community-based organization in Northeast Ohio, implemented the program from 2011 to 2013 and focused on the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. The program was intended to serve unemployed workers and low-wage workers whose household income does not exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Features of the Study

The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of the WorkAdvance program. At the Towards Employment site, 349 participants were randomly assigned to the WorkAdvance program (treatment group) and 349 participants were assigned to the control group. Control group members did not have access to WorkAdvance but could independently seek out other employment or training services in the community. More than half of the Towards Employment sample was female (59 percent) and had an average age of 35 years. Among the participants, 57 percent had attended college, and 27 percent were currently employed. Using Ohio unemployment insurance wage data, the authors conducted a statistical model to compare year three earnings and employment outcomes between the treatment and control groups.

Findings

Earnings and wages.

  • The study found no significant differences in average year three earnings between the treatment group and the control group.

Employment.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The treatment condition largely reflected the WorkAdvance model. The authors note that full model implementation took some time, suggesting that participants enrolling later in the study period may have received services more closely aligned with the model than those received by participants enrolling early in the study period. Additionally, early in the study period, the Towards Employment site offered a “placement-first” track that allowed participants to seek employment without first receiving training. This approach was phased out roughly halfway through the enrollment period.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it is based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the WorkAdvance program at the Towards Employment site, and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects.

Additional Sources

Schaberg, K., & Greenberg, D.H. (2020). Long-term effects of a sectoral advancement strategy: Costs, benefits, and impacts from the WorkAdvance demonstration. New York: MDRC.

Reviewed by CLEAR

July 2022

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