Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study’s objective was to examine the implementation of the Washington, DC Construction Academy and the Washington, DC Hospitality Academy (DCCA and DCHA, respectively) programs offered by the University of the District of Columbia-Community College (UDC-CC) in partnership with the Workforce Investment Council, the DC Workforce Investment Board, and employers to train un- and under-employed individuals in the construction and hospitality industries.
- The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using data gathered from UDC-CC grant staff and leadership during conference calls, program leadership and instructors during one-on-one interviews, student participants during focus groups, and from Workforce Industry Council members during observations.
- The study found that the program was generally implemented as planned despite delays resulting from staff turnover and subsequent hiring. Industry and employer partnerships ensured the redesigned programs met national standards and employer needs, while enhanced services were well received by students.
- The implementation study of the UDC-CC programs used qualitative data sources to answer the research questions. The report did not provide adequate detail on study participants; however, there were clear links between data collection, analysis, and findings and the findings were supported by multiple data sources when possible.
- The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in August 2020.
Features of the Intervention
- Type of organization: Community college
- Location/setting: District of Columbia
- Population served and scale: Un/underemployed adults; 763 participants
- Industry focus: Construction, Accommodation and Food Services
- Intervention activities: Career pathways; Student support services; Technology; Work-based-learning
- Organizational partnerships: Workforce Investment Council; Workforce Investment Board; Employers
- Cost: Not Included
- Fidelity: Not Included
The DC Construction Academy and the DC Hospitality Academy (DCCA and DCHA, respectively) were funded by a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to the University of the District of Columbia-Community College (UDC-CC). Program components included online and hybrid courses, new curricula aligned with national standards that met employer needs, stacked and latticed credentials, learning assessments, work-based learning, and additional supports. The TAACCCT grant funded changes to the construction, apartment maintenance, and hospitality programs and targeted un- and underemployed adults. For the construction program, students had to have an 8th grade education level in reading and math, be 18 or older, have a high school diploma or GED, and be a District of Columbia (DC) resident. The hospitality program conducted drug testing, background checks, and students had to have a minimum score on the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) test. No eligibility criteria were listed for the apartment maintenance program. UDC-CC partnered with the Workforce Investment Council (WIC), The DC Workforce Investment Board (DC WIB), and employers. The intervention occurred from 2013 to 2017 and served 763 participants.
The hospitality program drew from another TAACCCT Round 3 WIC-created program that had concluded in the summer of 2015. That program had created a hospitality course aligned to industry needs (eight hours a day, five days a week) and provided adult basic education, workforce development, and student services in partnership with agencies such as Goodwill Industries.
The logic model lists inputs (e.g., DC Workforce Investment Council, program participants and stakeholders, the U.S. DOL), program implementation activities (e.g., career pathways, on-the-job training, latticed and stacked credentials, literacy and numeracy skill checks and remediation, online, hybrid, and class coursework), outputs (e.g., improved soft and occupational skills, employer and industry partnerships, and recruitment), and outcomes (e.g., increased persistence, retention, completion, earnings, employment; decreased time between completion and job placement).
Features of the Study
The mixed method study assessed program implementation, which was focused on program development and activities, as well as challenges, successes, and lessons learned to identify best practices and recommendations. Data were collected from UDC-CC grant staff and leadership during conference calls from program leadership, one-on-one interviews with instructors, focus groups with student participants, observations of Workforce Industry Council members, and reviewing program documents such as progress reports, syllabi, and training materials. The study authors did not provide the number or characteristics of individuals that participated in data collection nor do they provide information on how data were analyzed.
- The study found that human resource delays and staff turnover created challenges to implementing the programs; however, some consistent project staff were crucial in keeping the programs on track.
- The study found that grant staff successfully aligned the curriculum to national standards, including those set forth by the American Heart Association, OSHA, and others.
- The study found that while both online and hybrid classes were designed and implemented, students still struggled with computer access and literacy.
- The study found that formal Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were not executed due to delays and leadership changes; however, informal partnerships were created with the DC WIB and employers which resulted in career fairs, class presentations, on-the-job training, and input on course creation and equipment purchases, which allowed for more hands-on training.
Implementation challenges and solutions
- The study found that no new articulation agreements were executed during the grant due to leadership changes.
- The study found that another grant, a Round 4 TAACCCT grant to the hospitality program, complicated the implementation because it overlapped with the DCHA program.
- The study found that while it was challenging to create, math instruction available through an app was helpful for construction students, in part because local employers administer a math test prior to employment.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors used qualitative data derived from interviews and focus groups, observations, and document reviews to answer the research questions. There were clear links between data collection, analysis, and findings and the findings were supported by multiple data sources when possible. One limitation was the lack of detail about study participant selection and the data analytic techniques.