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Net impact and benefit-cost estimates of the workforce development system in Washington state. (Upjohn Institute Technical Report No. 13-029). [Community and Technical College Job Prep Training]

Citation

Hollenbeck, K., & Huang, W-J. (2014). Net impact and benefit-cost estimates of the workforce development system in Washington state. (Upjohn Institute Technical Report No. 13-029). Retrieved from W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research website: http://dx.doi.org/10.17848/tr13-029%20[Community and Technical College Job Prep Training]

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of Community and Technical College (CTC) Job Preparatory Training on employment rates, average quarterly earnings, and benefit receipt of high school graduates and/or those age 18 or older in Washington State.
  • The authors assigned participants to the treatment group if they received technical job training through the CTC Job Preparatory Training program and exited from July 2005 to June 2006 or from July 2007 to June 2008. The comparison group comprised workers who registered for services with the Labor Exchange program during this period.
  • The study found that both short- and long-term employment and earnings increased for those who participated in the CTC training program compared to those in the Labor Exchange. In addition, short- and long-term receipt and value of benefits decreased for those in the treatment group.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before program participation. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CTC Job Preparatory Training program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Community and Technical College (CTC) Job Preparatory Training Program

Features of the Intervention

The CTC Job Preparatory Training program in Washington state offers partially subsidized training for a variety of technical jobs and is available at both community colleges and technical schools. The program is designed to prepare people for occupations which do not require a bachelor’s degree and is available to all high school graduates and/or those age 18 or older.

Features of the Study

The study included a sample of 26,529 participants in Washington State who exited the CTC Job Preparatory Training from July 2005 to June 2006 and 31,037 who exited from July 2007 to June 2008. CTC training program participants had to be age 18 or older and/or have obtained a high school degree. The participant sample was 32 years old on average, 59 percent female, and 30 percent ethnic minority. The comparison group comprised those workers who registered at the Labor Exchange and were ages 16 to 60.

The authors used administrative data from Unemployment Insurance records to compare changes in the employment rate, average quarterly earnings, and receipt of benefits for those who participated in the CTC training program to those who registered for services at the Labor Exchange.

Findings

  • Employment. The percentage of quarters employed increased significantly for those who took part in the CTC training program compared to those who registered at the Labor Exchange—6.6 percentage points in the third quarter after program exit and 10.1 percentage points in quarters 9–12 after program exit. The hours worked per quarter increased significantly for the treatment group relative to the comparison group, both in the third quarter after program exit (54.5 hours) and in quarters 9–12 after program exit (58.5 hours).
  • Earnings. Average quarterly earnings increased significantly for those who took part in the CTC training program compared to those who registered at the Labor Exchange, both in the third quarter after program exit ($1,365) and in quarters 9–12 after program exit ($1,572). The average hourly wage of the treatment group increased significantly relative to the comparison group—$2.42 in the third quarter after program exit and $2.87 in quarters 9–12 after program exit.
  • Benefit receipt. The rate of benefit use decreased significantly among CTC training program participants compared to those who registered at the Labor Exchange—4.7 percentage points in the third quarter after program exit and 5.7 percentage points in quarters 9–12 after program exit. The value of benefits received also decreased significantly for those in the CTC training program compared to the Labor Exchange group—$115 in the third quarter after program exit and $52 in quarters 9–12 after program exit.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Although the authors accounted for many underlying characteristics of the groups being compared, their decision to define the groups based on date of program exit rather than program entry is problematic. For example, suppose that the CTC training program participants and the Labor Exchange participants were on identical wage trajectories before receiving services from their respective programs, and suppose that the average length of participation in the CTC training program was six months, whereas that for Labor Exchange was one month. At the conclusion of participation, they exited the program.

If we compared the groups’ earnings 6 months after their recorded exit dates, we would be looking at CTC training program participants’ earnings about 12 months after they started receiving services and Labor Exchange participants’ earnings about 7 months after they started receiving services. If both programs were completely ineffective and everyone stayed on their original upward-sloping wage trajectory, it would appear as though the CTC training program participants earned more 6 months after their exit dates. However, this would not be attributable to receiving CTC training; it would be caused by the difference in elapsed time (12 months for CTC training program participants versus 7 months for Labor Exchange participants). Therefore, studies defining the groups based on exit date, rather than entry date, cannot receive a moderate causal evidence rating.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before program participation. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CTC Job Preparatory Training program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

November 2016