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.
Current Policy, Prominent Programs, and Evidence
This paper reviews the available evidence supporting various types of career and technical education programs, touching on both the amount of evidence available in each area and its level of rigor.
Implementation and Final Impacts of the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) Demonstration
WASC sought to increase the incomes of low-wage workers by stabilizing employment, improving skills, increasing earnings, and easing access to work supports. The program increased workers’ receipt of work supports. In the two sites that eased access to funds for training, WASC increased the receipt of certificates and licenses and increased earnings in the third year.
Implementing the Fort Worth Work Advancement and Support Center Program
This report examines the design and operation of a program called Project Earn, in Fort Worth, Texas, one of four sites in MDRC’s Work Advancement and Support Center demonstration. The program combined two types of income-building services for low-wage workers — skills training and connection to work supports, such as food stamps, child care subsidies, and tax credits — and delivered them in workplaces in collaboration with employers.
Evidence from the WASC Demonstration
Although many states are taking steps to offer simplified access to the food stamp program, little is known about the effect this might have on food stamp error rates. This paper studies the effects on error rates in two sites that were part of the Work Advancement Support Center demonstration, which aimed to help individuals in low-income jobs boost their income by making the most of available work supports, including food stamps.
Lessons for Practitioners
This 12-page brief distills practical implementation lessons from four programs that help low-wage workers access and retain child care subsidies, public health insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and other related government benefits.
WASC is an innovative strategy to help low-wage workers increase their incomes by stabilizing employment, improving skills, increasing earnings, and easing access to work supports. In its first year, WASC connected more workers to food stamps and publicly funded health care coverage and, in one site, substantially increased training activities.
Engaging Low-Wage Workers in Career Advancement
The Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) demonstration offers a new approach to helping low-wage and dislocated workers advance by increasing their wages or work hours, upgrading their skills, or finding better jobs. This report presents preliminary information on the effectiveness of strategies that were used to attract people to the WASC program and engage them in services.
Navigating Career Advancement for Low-Wage Workers
This report, from MDRC’s Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) demonstration, explores how WASC career coaches help low-wage workers understand the complex interactions between earnings and eligibility for work support programs and guide them to make the best advancement decisions possible.
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.