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Evaluation of the Alabama/Florida Technical Employment Network TAACCCT program (PTB & Associates 2016)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

PTB & Associates. (2016). Evaluation of the Alabama/Florida Technical Employment Network TAACCCT program. Bethesda, MD: PTB & Associates.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Alabama-Florida Technical Employment Network (AF-TEN) on student education and employment outcomes.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the education and employment outcomes of students who were in AF-TEN-enhanced welding programs to a matched comparison group of program students from prior years.
  • The study found that participation in the AF-TEN programs was significantly associated with fewer completed credit hours.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors used a comparison group from previous enrollment years, which presents a confound. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the AF-TEN intervention; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Alabama-Florida Technical Employment Network (AF-TEN)

Features of the Intervention

The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program provided $1.9 billion in grants to community colleges to improve skills and support employment in high-demand industries, notably manufacturing, health care, information technology, energy, and transportation. Through four rounds of funding, DOL awarded 256 TAACCCT grants to approximately 800 educational institutions across the United States and its territories.

The Alabama-Florida Technical Employment Network (AF-TEN) was created using TAACCCT funds to address regional workforce needs in the welding industry. AF-TEN targeted dislocated workers and sought to create educational pathways to credentialing, build relevant and career-focused programs, implement online and hybrid courses, technology, and learning modules, develop employer and stakeholder partnerships, provide employment placement services, and create agreements with four-year colleges. At two Network colleges in Alabama, which had existing welding programs, AF-TEN added new equipment and programs that focused on developing multiple career pathways into the welding industry for students of all experience levels.

Features of the Study

The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the AF-TEN program to a comparison group of students from prior years. The study was conducted at Wallace Community College in Dothan, Alabama and Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia, Alabama. The treatment group included a cohort of 461 students at the two schools who newly enrolled in an AF-TEN-enhanced welding program between 2014 and 2016. The authors compared treatment students to 393 matched comparison group students in the welding program during the 2012-2013 academic year, before AF-TEN improvement. Using data from college administrative records, state employment agencies, and state one-stop centers, the author matched treatment and comparison groups using propensity score inverse probability weighting. Outcomes included total credit hours, credentials, and employed during/after enrollment. The authors used statistical tests to examine differences in the outcomes between treatment and comparison groups.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study found that participation in the AF-TEN was significantly associated with the completion of 19.9 fewer credit hours than the comparison group.
  • The study did not find a significant relationship between participation in the AF-TEN and credential completion during and after enrollment.

Employment

  • The study did not find a significant relationship between participation in the AF-TEN and employment rates during and after enrollment.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors used a cohort from previous enrollment years as the comparison group. Because the outcome data on the two groups were collected from participants at different times, differences in outcomes could be due to time-varying factors (such as overall changes in the economy) and not the intervention. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors used a comparison group from previous enrollment years, which presents a confound. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the AF-TEN intervention; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2020

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