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Job training for a knowledge-based economy: The Quincy College Biotechnology and Compliance program (Van Dyke et al. 2016)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Van Dyke, B., Bayala, I., & Cutaia, K. (2016). Job training for a knowledge-based economy: The Quincy College Biotechnology and Compliance program. Quincy, MA: Quincy College.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Quincy College Biotechnology and Compliance program on education, earnings, and employment outcomes.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to assess the outcomes of students enrolled in the Biotechnology and Compliance program to a comparison group.
  • The study found that Biotechnology and Compliance program participation was associated with higher rates of employment, degree attainment, and pursuit of further education, but lower earnings. However, the study did not include tests of statistical significance.
  • The quality of casual evidence presented in this study 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 Biotechnology and Compliance program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Quincy College’s Biotechnology and Compliance Program

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.

Upon receipt of a TAACCCT grant, Quincy College developed two new pathways related to Biotechnology and Compliance, an Associate’s degree and a credential program. In addition, the program included a state-of-the-art biomanufacturing training lab, an upgraded curriculum, an online virtual laboratory, bridge classes, access to professional development opportunities, and additional staff who were hired specifically for these programs. Students were eligible to benefit if they enrolled in either of these programs beginning in the fall of 2013.

Features of the Study

The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the Biotechnology and Compliance Associate’s degree program to students who did not participate. The comparison group included students who were enrolled in the Medical Technology Associate’s degree program during the same time period. Study participants included 11 students in the treatment group and 11 students in the comparison group. Using student surveys, the authors examined differences in program completion, credit hours received, employment retention, gainful employment, and wage increases. However, no tests of statistical significance were provided.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study found that participation in the Biotechnology and Compliance program was related to increased credit attainment, degree completion, and enrollment in further education, relative to the comparison group.

Earnings and wages

  • When compared to students in the comparison group, the study found that participation in the Biotechnology and Compliance program was related to lower earnings after program completion.

Employment

  • The study found that participation in the Biotechnology and Compliance program was related to increased employment after program completion and employment retention six months after completion, relative to the comparison group.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors did not provide demographic information about the comparison group and did not account for preexisting differences between the treatment and comparison groups before program participation. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the Biotechnology and Compliance program—could explain the observed differences in outcomes. 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 casual 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 Biotechnology and Compliance program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2020

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