Absence of conflict of interest.
Andersson, F., Holzer, H. J., Lane, J. I., Rosenblum, D., & Smith, J. (2013). Does federally-funded job training work? Nonexperimental estimates of WIA training impacts using longitudinal data on workers and firms (Discussion paper no. 7621). Bonn, Germany: IZA. [Adult Program ONLY]
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) adult program’s training services on the employment and earnings of low-income adults. The authors investigated similar research questions in another study, whose profile can be found [here]. The other study examined the effects of WIA’s dislocated worker program’s training services on the employment and earnings of dislocated workers.
- The authors used statistical analysis to compare the earnings and employment outcomes of WIA-registered low-income adults who received training services to the outcomes of those who were registered in WIA, but did not receive training services.
- The study found that employment was significantly lower for the treatment group than it was for the comparison group in the first quarters after WIA registration (Quarters 1 and 2 in State A and Quarters 1–4 in State B), but later became and generally stayed significantly higher in Quarters 6 through 12 in both states. Total earnings in the third year after WIA registration were significantly higher for the treatment group than the comparison group. People in the treatment group earned $1,257 and $1,703 more than those in the comparison group in State A and State B, respectively.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design; this is the highest causal evidence rating possible for a nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the WIA adult program training services, but other factors might also have contributed to the effects.
Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Program Training Services
Features of the Intervention
The WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs were authorized by Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and superseded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which became effective in July 2015. The Adult and Dislocated Worker Program services, which remained essentially the same under WIOA, were designed to provide quality employment and training services to eligible workers. Administered through local workforce investment areas, the Adult Program served all people ages 18 and older, whereas the Dislocated Worker Program served people who had been laid off, including those whose place of business had closed permanently and who were unlikely to return to their previous industry. WIA provided a variety of employment services for unemployed people at One-Stop centers, now called American Job Centers. Eligible workers could receive three tiers of services through WIA: core, intensive, and training services. In addition, some local areas provided supportive services such as child care, transportation, and work-related financial assistance to those who qualified.
Core services were provided to all customers who sought employment, educational information, or upgrades to their skill sets or employment. Core services were the first ones customers received from a One-Stop location. They included needs assessments, screening for service and program eligibility, a review of the customer’s occupational level and skill level, and career planning. In addition, customers may have received assistance with job searches or placement, and could engage in workshops and discussions. They could also access a list with detailed information on eligible training providers. Core services were typically activities that people did on their own with the help of software, online supports, and employment resources.
Intensive services were offered to people who could not find employment through core services. Intensive services included career assessments, counseling (individual or group), support services such as child care and mileage reimbursement, and an individual employment plan, which was used to determine if the person would require more services.
Training services were offered to those who could not receive employment through core and intensive services. The training services involved classes in occupational skills and on-the-job training provided by private firms. People could be selected for training services in a variety of ways, including being referred by a training provider or program staff member, entering by their own choice, or progressing through the prior core and intensive services offered by WIA. Training was provided in areas with employment growth and had to be completed in two years. People who completed the training received an educational credential such as a diploma, degree, or skill certificate.
Features of the Study
The study implemented a nonexperimental analysis of the employment and earnings of WIA adult program participants in two states. State A, a medium-sized state on the East Coast, had 15,532 WIA adult program participants, of whom 4,640 received the training services. State B, a large state in the Midwest, had 23,182 WIA adult program participants, of whom 11,380 received training services. Using data from the Workforce Investment Act Standard Record Data (WIASRD) and Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD), the authors used a statistical technique (regression analysis using inverse propensity weighting) that compared the treatment group of participants who received training services to the comparison group of participants who did not receive training services. The comparison group was selected to match the treatment group in terms of demographic characteristics and prior employment and earnings.
- In State A, the treatment group was significantly less likely than the comparison group to be employed in Quarters 1 and 2 after WIA registration, but was significantly more likely to be employed in Quarters 6 through 12, with the exception of Quarter 8, in which employment was higher but the difference was not statistically significant.
- In State B, the treatment group was significantly less likely to be employed than the comparison group in Quarters 1 to 3 after WIA registration, but was more likely to be employed in Quarters 5 through 12.
Earnings and wages
- In State A, members of the treatment group earned significantly less in Quarters 1 to 3 after WIA registration than members of the comparison group did.
- Similarly, in State B, the members of the treatment group earned significantly less in Quarters 1 to 4 after WIA registration than members of the comparison group did. • In State A, earnings were significantly higher for the treatment group than the comparison group in every quarter—6 through 12—after WIA registration.
- In State B, earnings were higher for the treatment group than for the comparison group in Quarters 7 through 12 after WIA registration.
- Treatment group members in State A and State B earned $1,257 and $1,703 more, respectively, in the third year after WIA registration than those in the comparison group did.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The program was designed so that WIA participants would receive core and intensive services, followed by training if they were still not employed. However, in practice, some participants received training without receiving core or intensive services. Thus, the treatment in this study can be understood as training plus the opportunity to receive core and intensive services, whereas the comparison condition is the opportunity to receive core and intensive services only.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design; this is the highest causal evidence rating possible for a nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the WIA adult program training services, but other factors might also have contributed to the effects.