Panel Paper: ROI Estimation for Workforce Development Programs

Thursday, November 8, 2012 : 10:15 AM
McKeldon (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kevin Hollenbeck, W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Title: ROI Estimation for Workforce Development Programs


Dr. Kevin Hollenbeck, Sr. Economist [APPAM Member]

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Dr. Christopher T. King, Director [APPAM member]

Ray Marshall Center, LBJ School

The University of Texas at Austin

The general clamor to rein in government spending at all levels - federal, state, and local - is causing program administrators to focus on return on investment (ROI). In theory, a prudent investor or a policy maker with fiduciary responsibility for taxpayer funds should use ROI computations to guide their investment and budgetary decisions. Other things being equal, marginal dollars should be invested in programs with the greatest ROI. Calculating ROI for workforce development programs requires considerable data and careful analyses of benefits and costs. It is unrealistic to think that simple, one-size-fits-all tools can be developed to estimate a program’s ROI quickly with only minimal data inputs. This paper describes and discusses the data required to calculate reasonable ROI estimates for workforce programs. It also provides examples of ROI computations based on data from workforce programs evaluated in several states.

Full Paper: