Sectoral Training

August, 2017

Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.

March, 2017

Even in good economic times, workers with limited education may need help getting or regaining a foothold in the job market. Effective career training programs exist. Approaches that target in-demand industries and closely involve employers can get results, benefiting high school students, adults without diplomas, and long-term unemployed workers.

Lessons for Practitioners

October, 2016

The demonstration of WorkAdvance confirmed that sectoral employment programs can increase employment and earnings among low-income individuals. This brief offers insights from providers on selecting sectors, tailoring training to employer needs, reducing attrition, securing placements that offer better wages and benefits, and helping workers plan for advancement.

The GED Bridge to College and Career Program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

October, 2016

Nearly 30 million adults today lack a high school credential and face significant barriers to higher education and employment. This Issue Focus describes an evaluation of a career-focused GED program that aims to help these adults obtain a high school credential and transition seamlessly into postsecondary education or training.

October, 2016

WorkAdvance connects low-income job seekers to high-demand sectors that offer quality jobs with strong career pathways. This infographic describes the program model and its implementation in four locations and presents encouraging evidence of WorkAdvance’s effects on boosting earnings.

Two-Year Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration

August, 2016

WorkAdvance provides demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs with career pathways. As detailed in this full report, all four programs studied greatly increased training completion and credential acquisition. Employment outcomes varied by site, with large, consistent impacts at the most experienced provider and promising results at two others.

A Preview Summary of Two-Year Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration

June, 2016

WorkAdvance provides demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs with career pathways. This preview summary finds that all four programs studied greatly increased training completion and credential acquisition. Employment outcomes varied by site, with large, consistent impacts at the most experienced provider and promising results at two others.

April, 2016

This broad national survey of community-based workforce development providers found that while few offer training programs for middle-skill employment in the retail industry, the opportunity exists to create more such programs if retail employers and nonprofit providers work together to overcome current obstacles and disincentives.

March, 2016

A growing number of education and workforce programs are implementing “career pathways” strategies to help youth and adults prepare for postsecondary education and quality jobs. This Issue Brief describes the career pathways approach and profiles MDRC projects that shed light on its effectiveness and potential to improve education and career outcomes.

June, 2015

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) emphasizes targeting out-of-school youth with training and services that are employer driven and linked to labor market demand. Drawing upon available research and on-the-ground experience, this paper summarizes existing knowledge that can guide implementation of key WIOA provisions for serving out-of-school youth.

Examples, Evidence, and Prospects

April, 2015

High school reform is increasingly focused on the role of career-technical education (CTE) in preparing all students for success in both college and career. Instead of stand-alone vocational courses, programs that merge CTE, rigorous academics, and career exploration are gaining momentum, but schools need resources and training to implement them.

April, 2015

This two-page issue focus describes two projects — one completed and the other just started — testing a career-focused GED curriculum model that aims to improve high school credentialing and college entry rates. It offers a contextualized, career-focused GED curriculum, while supporting students in their transition to college or training.

February, 2015

Improving the employment outlook of disadvantaged young people on a large scale will require a stronger focus on engaging private employers on potential solutions. On June 4, 2014, MDRC and The Rockefeller Foundation convened a group of experts to discuss such demand-driven approaches.

Evidence on Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Youth in the United States

February, 2015

The Great Recession took a toll on the already dim economic prospects of low-income 16- to 24-year-olds who face structural barriers to employment. Evidence indicates that involvement of employers in devising education, training, and work experiences that meet labor market demands should be a key component of any policy response.

Implementation of a Sector-Focused Career Advancement Model for Low-Skilled Adults

October, 2014

The WorkAdvance program model aims to prepare individuals for good jobs in high-demand industries and to increase their prospects for staying employed and moving up. Participants receive career readiness and occupational skills training, job placement, and advancement coaching. This report looks at how four providers translated the model into workable programs.

Evidence from Promising Programs

June, 2014

A review of high-quality studies, this paper highlights interventions — in education, employment and training, and second-chance programs — that have demonstrated positive results for young men of color. It comes as policymakers and philanthropies focus new attention on investing more to build opportunities for these young men. 

June, 2014

This report, published by the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network, offers a set of recommendations about how to build knowledge on effective programs and policies to improve the economic condition of disadvantaged fathers.

Labor Market Challenges for Low-Income Adults

April, 2014

MDRC hosted a recent colloquium to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the contributions of former Board Chair Robert Solow. This issue focus summarizes a panel presentation, featuring David Autor, Mary Jo Bane, David Card, and Lawrence Katz, on the current economic climate and how MDRC’s research can address today’s problems.

 

Promising Models for Moving High School Dropouts to College

January, 2014

This report examines interventions that make adult education and GED standards more rigorous, that combine academic preparation with supports for transitioning to college, or that allow students to enroll in college while earning their GED. The most promising reforms integrate basic skills and GED instruction within specific career fields and support students’ entry into college.

Testing a New Approach to Increase Employment Advancement for Low-Skilled Adults

June, 2013

This policy brief discusses a new skills-building model designed to help low-income adults prepare for, enter, and succeed in quality jobs, in high-demand fields with opportunities for career growth. WorkAdvance uses strategies found in sector-based employment programs, combined with career coaching after participants are placed into jobs.

Early Success in LaGuardia Community College’s Bridge to Health and Business Program

May, 2013

One year after enrolling, students in LaGuardia’s GED Bridge program were more than twice as likely to have passed the GED exam and three times as likely to have enrolled in college as students in a more traditional GED preparation class.

March, 2013

While we know how to help low-income individuals prepare for and find work, too many end up in low-wage jobs and never advance up the career ladder. This policy memo describes what we’ve learned about advancement strategies — both those that show promise and those that don’t work.

March, 2012

This policy brief, developed by the Urban Institute for the federal Administration for Children and Families, summarizes research on strategies that can increase TANF recipients’ and other low-income adults’ engagement and persistence in postsecondary education and training and boost their earnings.

Will the Past Be Prologue?

November, 2009

In remarks given at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, MDRC President Gordon Berlin looks at the extraordinary challenges the current labor market presents to employment policy generally and WIA reauthorization specifically, outlines what we have (and haven’t) learned from research, and makes recommendations for future directions.

April, 2007

In his testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, MDRC President Gordon Berlin argues that the most direct way to alleviate poverty is to tackle the legacy of falling wages, particularly for men with less education.

January, 2007

In a rapidly growing low-wage labor market, the workforce investment system and the Workforce Investment Act should expand their focus to include job retention and advancement services by engaging private employers and to enhance the accessibility of work supports.

Final Report on the Center for Employment Training Replication Sites

September, 2005

The Center for Employment Training (CET) in San Jose, California, produced large, positive employment and earnings effects for out-of-school youth in the late 1980s. However, in this replication study, even the highest-fidelity sites did not increase employment or earnings for youth over the 54-month follow-up period, despite short-term positive effects for women.

Evidence from a Sample of Recent CET Applicants

September, 2005

This working paper examines employment and earnings over a four-year period for a group of disadvantaged out-of-school youth who entered the Evaluation of the Center for Employment Training (CET) Replication Sites between 1995 and 1999. It assesses the importance of three key factors as barriers to employment: lack of a high school diploma, having children, and having an arrest record.

Improving Services for Low-Income Working Families

March, 2004

A collaboration of MDRC and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, this report explores how best to improve job stability and career advancement of low-wage earners and increase their household income.

Thirty-Month Findings from the Evaluation of the Center for Employment Training Replication Sites

June, 2003

Efforts to replicate the experience of the Center for Employment Training in San Jose, California — a uniquely successful program that helped at-risk youth develop skills needed to compete in today’s labor market — showed mixed results.

How to Involve Employers in Welfare Reform

May, 1998

Business-Led Initiative for Welfare Reform and Economic Development

January, 1997

Final Report on a Program for School Dropouts

October, 1993

This report, which completes the JOBSTART Demonstration, addresses issues closely linked to the nation’s ongoing debate about how best to improve the employment and earnings prospects of low-skilled, economically disadvantaged young people, who otherwise live outside the economic mainstream.

Project Overview

Chicago has seen a staggering increase in violent crime over the past three years, with violent crime rates that are over double the national average.

Project Overview

More than one-third of all children under 18 years of age — about 24 million children — live in single-parent families, a vast majority headed by single mothers.

Project Overview

Some 25 million working-age adults in the United States lack a high school diploma or equivalent, barring them from most colleges and many training programs.

Project Overview

Past evaluations have provided solid evidence regarding what works to help low-income individuals become employed. However, these studies have also found that many people who found jobs were not better off financially, in part because these jobs were unstable, low paying, and provided few advancement opportunities.

Project Overview

About two-thirds of high school dropouts continue their education and obtain a high school credential within eight years of their scheduled graduation date. The majority obtain a General Educational Development (GED) certificate rather than a high school diploma.

Project Overview

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) is the federal government’s largest source of federally funded employment services and training. WIA is the latest in a series of federal employment and training programs, the first having arisen in response to the Great Depression.

Project Overview

For low-income youth who lack basic skills and drop out of school, finding employment at a living wage is a challenge.

Project Overview

Young people without postsecondary education or vocational credentials face an uphill battle in the competition for jobs.