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Implementation and early training outcomes of the High Growth Job Training Initiative: Final report (Eyster et al. 2010)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Eyster, L., Nightingale, D.S., Barnow, B., O'Brien, C., Trutko, J. & Kuehn, D. (2010) Implementation and early training outcomes of the High Growth Job Training Initiative: Final report. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the High Growth Job Training Initiative (HGJTI) grant on earnings. This summary focuses on the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) in Oregon.
  • This nonexperimental study used propensity score matching and difference-in-differences models to compare the earnings outcomes of women who participated in the CNA program to those who did not.
  • The study found that women who participated in the CGCC CNA program earned significantly less than women in the comparison group.
  • 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 CGCC CNA program, but other factors might also have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Columbia Gorge Community College’s (CGCC) Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program

Features of the Intervention

Between 2001 and 2008, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration funded more than 160 High Growth Job Training Initiative (HGJTI) grants. Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) in rural Oregon received an HGJTI grant that ran from 2004-2008. CGCC focused on a healthcare career ladder and served people new to the healthcare industry and dislocated workers in the Columbia Gorge region. CGCC offered a two-year associate's degree in Nursing, a 160-hour certified nursing assistant (CNA) program, and an 80-hour certified medical assistant (CMA) program. Local hospitals, medical centers, and long-term care facilities provided support for the program, including on-site training. The three-month CNA program had the most enrollees and included 160 hours of training (80 hours in class and 80 hours in a clinical setting). Enrollees in the CNA program were 88 percent female, 87 percent white, and on average 31 years old. More than 98 percent had at least a high school diploma or GED.

Features of the Study

The study used propensity score matching and difference-in-differences models to estimate the impact of the CGCC CNA program on earnings outcomes. Since very few men enrolled in the program, they were excluded from the study. The treatment group included 180 women entering the CGCC CNA program between 2004 and early 2008. The comparison group included 770 Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult and Dislocated Worker participants served by the rural Oregon Local Workforce Investment region who received core or intensive services during the same time period and for whom complete data was available. The authors used five matching strategies to create the comparison group. Information about the matched sample strategies was not provided, but the authors note that except for one matching strategy, the treatment and comparison groups were similar.

Using college records and earnings data from the Oregon employment department, the authors conducted statistical models to compare the changes in quarterly earnings (two quarters post program to quarters five and six of pre-program earnings and quarters seven and eight of pre-program earnings) between the treatment group and the comparison group. Variables used for matching and controlled for in the models included race/ethnicity, age, education, prior labor force status, and prior earnings. Unemployment rates were also included in the models as a measure of changing economic conditions over time.

Findings

Earnings and wages

  • For comparison of the post-program earnings to pre-program quarters five and six, the study found that women who participated in the CGCC CNA program earned significantly less than women in the comparison group for one of the five matched samples.
  • For comparison of the post-program earnings to pre-program quarters seven and eight, the study found no significant differences between the groups.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors note that the study region is located near the Oregon-Washington border and program participants may have been employed in hospitals or other facilities in Washington State. However, they were unable to access quarterly earnings data from the unemployment insurance wage reporting system in Washington State. As a result, the findings presented in the study might underestimate the impact on those who participated in the CGCC CNA program.

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 Columbia Gorge Community College’s (CGCC) Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program, but other factors might also have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

January 2021

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