Panel Paper: The Experiences and Characteristics of Participants in ARRA-Funded Health Care and Green Jobs Training Programs

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 10:55 AM
Enchantment Ballroom B (Hyatt)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Julie A. Williams, Elizabeth Copson and Karin Martinson, Abt Associates, Inc.
The skills gap of unemployed and underemployed workers is a wide barrier to employment for many Americans. To help address this gap, the Department of Labor provides billions of dollars in grants for the provision of training programs in a variety of workforce sectors. In 2009, two such grants (Pathways Out of Poverty and Health Care and Other High Growth Industries) awarded $750 million for worker training and placement in the green energy and health care sectors. Of the 93 grants awarded, four are being rigorously evaluated for evidence of effectiveness under the Green Jobs and Health Care Impact Evaluation, which includes both a randomized controlled trial study and implementation study. This paper presents early findings from this evaluation. 

At the 2014 Fall Research Conference, we will present implementation study and baseline data analysis findings. Specifically, we will describe the study sample and learn exactly who it is that applied for and participated in these training programs. We will then discuss participant experiences in these programs in terms of their enrollment, progression through training activities, and completion rates, all in the context of the nature and content of the trainings and other services provided at each site (as based on observational and interview-based data). Finally, we will learn whether certain participant characteristics predict program progression and/or completion rates. The results from this paper inform practice at both the federal and local level, as practitioners learn more about training participants and their experiences in the programs, thus allowing them to more specifically target their recruitment and programmatic activities. Furthermore, the discussion will provide informed guidance to future evaluators as they learn about our methods for conducting program flow analyses and collecting program data.

The Green Jobs and Health Care Impact Evaluation is a 5-year study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.  The impact study, to be complete in 2017, will measure the effects of the grant-funded training programs on participants’ attainment of certificates and credentials, employment and earnings, and wage and job progression. The implementation study focuses on program operations, including recruitment and enrollment practices, program activities, key partner roles, and service receipt and completion levels among program participants. The evaluation is being conducted in four sites and focuses on training programs that move beyond “business as usual” to provide comprehensive training services including accommodations and supports to more effectively serve low-skilled individuals. Programs included in the evaluation emphasize a “career pathway” approach that fosters job advancement through articulated training and employment steps in occupations in demand in local communities. Other elements include supportive services such career and personal counseling; financial assistance; and connections to employers. The evaluation is being led by Abt Associates Inc., in partnership with Mathematica Policy Research.