Absence of conflict of interest.
WorkED Consulting. (2018). Oklahoma City Community College TAACCCT: Commercial Food Equipment Service Technician (CFEST) program third-party evaluation final report. Burke, VA: WorkED Consulting, LLC.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Commercial Food Equipment Service Technician (CFEST) program on education, earnings, and employment outcomes.
- The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of CFEST program participants to a matched comparison group at the same community college.
- The study did not find a significant association between participation in the CFEST program and earned credentials, program completion, attainment of employment, or hourly wage.
- The quality of causal 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 CFEST program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The Commercial Food Equipment Service Technician (CFEST) 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.
In 2014, Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) was awarded a TAACCCT grant to implement the Commercial Food Equipment Service Technician (CFEST) program, designed to train a workforce in commercial food equipment maintenance and repair with skills in hydraulics/pneumatics, refrigeration, electrical, gas, and steam equipment. The program used a competence-based training model that included in-person instruction and applied learning. Industry-recognized credentialing and credit for prior learning were key components of the program. CFEST launched in July 2015 as a four- to six-week program. CFEST incorporated feedback from employers and students, and content areas were enhanced and modified for the program over time. By the fall of 2017, the program had been expanded to a 12 to 14-week program. In addition to college certificates and industry-recognized credentials, social support services (e.g., counseling, advising, and referrals) were offered to participants.
Features of the Study
The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the CFEST program to a comparison group of students in another training program at the same community college. All study participants self-enrolled into their training programs. Propensity score matching was used to form a comparison group similar to the students in the CFEST program. The treatment group included 117 participants and the comparison group included 18 participants from a pharmacy technology program. Using student surveys and administrative data, the authors compared earned credentials and program completion rates between groups, and earnings and employment outcomes of participants in both groups before and after program participation.
Education and skills gain
- The study did not find significant relationships between CFEST program participation and earned credentials or program completion.
Earnings and wages
- The study did not find a significant relationship between CFEST program participation and hourly wages.
- The study did not find a significant relationship between CFEST program participation and employment.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before program participation or include sufficient control variables, including controlling for the age of the participants. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the CFEST program—could explain the observed outcomes. The authors also used participants from a different program of study as the comparison group. The study’s estimated effects could be attributed to program varying factors (e.g., academic design, program structure, expectations) and not the CFEST program. Finally, self-reported wage data were from 11 CFEST participants and 9 comparison group participants, not the full sample, making sample sizes insufficient for analysis. 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 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 CFEST program; other factors are likely to have contributed.