When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.
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.
Final Impacts and Costs of New York City’s Young Adult Internship Program
This report presents 30-month impacts from a random assignment evaluation of a program that subsidized employers to offer temporary paid jobs to young people who were disconnected from school and work in New York City. After 30 months, program enrollees and nonenrollees fared similarly, with the former slightly more likely to report employment.
Career pathways programs, which equip high school students with the academic, technical, and “soft” skills they need to succeed, can also help meet local employer demand for skilled workers. This issue focus introduces one such initiative that uses paid internships to help students gain a foothold in a high-wage industry.
An Evaluation of SEED DC
The nation’s first public, urban, college-prep boarding school emphasizes academic excellence and personal development. A six-year evaluation using SEED’s admission lotteries found that SEED DC raised lottery winners’ test scores but did not increase the on-time graduation rate or reduce teen pregnancy or involvement in the criminal justice system.
The Importance of Evidence
In this essay, adapted from remarks made to the Growth Philanthropy Network/Social Impact Exchange 2014 Conference on Scaling Impact, MDRC President Gordon Berlin explains why developing reliable evidence of effectiveness is critical when expanding programs to a large scale.
Testing a New Approach to Increase Employment Advancement for Low-Skilled Adults
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.
As the demand for high-skilled workers rises and the availability of well-paying jobs for young people declines, making a successful transition to adulthood has become increasingly challenging for disadvantaged youth. MDRC develops and studies programs to help young people who face major barriers in finding a path to stable adult life.
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.