Absence of conflict of interest.
Elinson, L., Frey, W. D., Li, T., Palan, M. A., & Horne, R. L. (2008). Evaluation of customized employment in building the capacity of the workforce development system. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 28(3), 141-158.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of customized employment services for disabled adults on earnings and employment.
- Using administrative data, the authors compared employment and earnings outcomes of people who participated in a customized employment intervention with outcomes of people who participated in a Working for Freedom, Opportunity, and Real Choice through Community Employment (WorkForce) intervention.
- The study found that those in the customized employment intervention were more likely to be employed for at least 12 months and to earn at least $8.15 per hour after participating in the intervention compared with the WorkForce group.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the WorkForce intervention; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The customized employment services
Features of the Intervention
People in the treatment group participated in customized employment services. The services were offered through One-Stop Career Centers, which were established by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and organized through state and local Workforce Investment Boards.
Customized employment services are intended to provide a tailored employment opportunity for people with complex needs or barriers to work. Job seekers are offered four main service components: (1) individualized services, such as the formation of a support team and creation of an employment plan; (2) representation services providing tools necessary to secure employment, including a portfolio in lieu of a resume, access to an individualized training account, and identification of an individual who can help the job seeker to negotiate employment; (3) negotiation services, including helping a job seeker search for employment, negotiate a job description, and negotiate supportive services or accommodations required for employment; and (4) ongoing support services to help manage non-work barriers that might affect job seekers’ ability to remain employed.
People in the comparison group participated in the WorkForce intervention, which involved receiving services at community agencies or organizations such as mental health service agencies and private industry councils.
Features of the Study
The study describes results from an evaluation of the Office of Disability Employment Policy Demonstration Program. The authors examined outcomes for three cohorts of participants from 2004 to 2006 who were employed after participating in the customized services or WorkForce program. Using a regression analysis, they compared outcomes for those who received customized employment services with outcomes for those who participated in the WorkForce intervention. The authors did not list how many people received each intervention. The regression analysis controlled for the following variables: whether the participant received one or more than one type of individualization service, whether the participant required job supervision, and whether the participant had a psychiatric or emotional disability.
Using data collected from the demonstration sites, the authors reported mean hourly earnings immediately following the end of the intervention for a total of 1,373 employed people. The authors reported the duration of employment for at least one year after the intervention for 293 people.
- WorkForce program participants were significantly less likely than customized employment program participants to be employed for at least 12 months after the intervention (odds ratio = 0.21).
Earnings and wages
- WorkForce program participants were significantly less likely than customized employment program participants to earn at least $8.15 per hour (odds ratio = 0.43).
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors did not account for existing differences between customized employment and WorkForce program participants on important variables such as gender and earnings. These existing differences between the groups—and not the interventions—could explain the observed differences in outcomes.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that groups were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the customized employment intervention; other factors are likely to have contributed.