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Vincennes University Logistics Training and Education Center: Final evaluation report. (Bellville et al. 2016)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Bellville, J. Schoeph, K., Leger, R., Jenner, E., Maddox, D., Lass, K., & Beres, S. (2016). Vincennes University Logistics Training and Education Center: Final evaluation report. Retrieved from https://www.skillscommons.org/bitstream/handle/taaccct/9769/VU%20LTEC%20Final%20Evaluation%20Report%20TAACCCT%20R2_Sept%202016.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the implementation of the Logistics Training and Education Center (LTEC) Initiative which offered job training for individuals interested in careers in logistics (warehouse and transportation).
  • The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using monthly implementation update calls with LTEC leadership; interviews with LTEC leadership, staff, faculty, instructors, and participants as well as regional employers; document review; and review of pre-/post-participant assessment data.
  • The study determined that the LTEC Initiative successfully evolved its programming to address student and employer needs and implemented new training approaches (blended classroom and hands-on learning, short-term training programs) that will likely live beyond the end of the grant along with leadership flexibility to recognize and adopt new training approaches. Stakeholder engagement was both a challenge (local workforce agencies) and a success (local employers).
  • This study reflected an appropriate research design, thorough data collection, and comprehensive analysis and interpretation. The limitations on data collection were clearly articulated by the researchers and do not call into question the validity of this study.
  • The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in May 2020.

Intervention Examined

Logistics Training and Education Center (LTEC) Initiative

Features of the Intervention

  • Type of organization: University
  • Location/setting: Plainfield, Indiana
  • Population served and scale: Adults; Low-skilled; 544 participants
  • Industry focus: Transportation and warehousing
  • Intervention strategies: Career pathways; Student support services; Technology; Work-based learning
  • Organizational partnerships: Local workforce agencies; Employers; High schools; High school programs; Reentry programs; Veterans service organizations
  • Cost: Not included
  • Fidelity: Not included

The LTEC Initiative was funded with a four-year, $3 million U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant in 2012. The target population was TAA-eligible workers, but the Initiative also served other populations including justice-involved citizens, veterans, and youth in high school. A total of 544 students enrolled in LTWC programs, with 480 completing a TAACCCT-funded program of study. Recruitment was primarily local via billboards, educational fairs, wrapped trailers, and referrals from the workforce system, local companies, and partners. The LTEC Initiative enhanced existing logistics training programs offered at Vincennes University’s Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield, Indiana, as well as created new training programs. Specific training programs were Tractor-Trailer Driver Training, Fork-Lift Essentials, Supply Chain Management, Global Logistics Associate, and Team Lead Essentials. Training enhancement priorities for the LTEC Initiative included incorporating technology-enabled learning opportunities into traditional warehouse training (classroom and virtual), creating stacked and latticed credential opportunities for students, identifying clear learning pathways for certificate- and degree-seeking students, recognizing the value of work experience through prior learning assessment, articulation agreements with 4-year universities, and alignment with employers, high schools, and the public workforce system. The Initiative also included support services for participants.

The report includes an LTEC Initiative participant flow diagram and a logic model. The inputs recognize the contribution of funders, donations, staff and faculty, employers and other partners, and support from the main campus at Vincennes University. Activities included program and course development, marketing and recruitment, and student assessment, training, and support services. LTEC staff tracked the 10 required TAACCCT data elements (outputs) such as number of unique participants served and number of participants employed at enrollment who received wage increases post-enrollment. Expected short-term outcomes included participants’ increased understanding of, and skills and abilities in, logistics; job and career opportunities; and wages. Longer-term outcomes included sustainable careers for participants, reduced gap between logistics employer demand and workforce supply, and stronger relationships among industry, education, and workforce in the area. The LTEC Initiative was in its fourth year of operation at the end of the TAACCCT grant/evaluation and there was no discussion of shutting down Initiative programs or enhancements.

Features of the Study

The implementation evaluation sought to understand whether the LTEC Initiative was implemented according to plan and how it adapted and changed over time. The study focused on the training component of the intervention rather than student support services, and examined the Initiative’s only site (the Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield, Indiana). The research team conducted monthly implementation update calls with the LTEC Director and Project Manager to track implementation of the Initiative. They held interviews with approximately 25 Initiative staff, faculty, and instructors and 10 employers and partners, and held 10 focus groups with LTEC participants. They reviewed program documents and results from pre-training and post-training assessments of participants’ knowledge for 388 students in three LTEC programs. The research team applied an inductive thematic approach to analyzing qualitative data, including development of themes, units of analysis, use of a time-dependent gradient, program-dependent gradient, and triangulation of findings. For the quantitative data from the pre/post assessments, they conducted descriptive statistical analysis of data by program, quarter, and participant type.

Findings

Intervention activities/services

  • The study found that most program activities were implemented as intended, including the enhancement of existing training programs and the establishment of new programs. Elements that were not successfully implemented were the academic (longer-term) training pathways and the Employer Leadership Group.
  • The study found that the Initiative exceeded many of its targets, including participants served and credentials earned. The Initiative failed to reach other targets, including participants employed after training and participants who received a wage increase post-enrollment.
  • The study found that participant understanding of, and skills and abilities in, the logistics field increased after the training.
  • The study found that participants and employer partners both believed that the flexibility offered by the LTEC Initiative was a strong benefit.
  • The study found that while participation in short-term training programs was higher than expected, participation in longer-term academic programs was much lower than expected.

Implementation challenges and solutions

  • The study found that while collaboration with local workforce agencies was a challenge, the initiative developed meaningful partnerships with regional employers and high schools/high school programs.
  • The study found that LTEC leadership reaching out to employers individually was a more effective way to engage with them (for participant recruitment and for equipment donations) than convening them in an Employer Leadership Group.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The potential for partial or biased findings due to the nature of qualitative research used in this study was addressed through triangulation of sources. Selection bias among interview respondents was noted, but could not be accounted for by the authors. Data quality issues and missing data were also a challenge, though LTEC attempted to combat it by hiring a data manager.

Reviewed by CLEAR

July 2021

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