Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel: Do the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Employment and Training Programs Work?
(Employment and Training Programs)

Friday, November 13, 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Orchid A (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Sheena McConnell, Mathematica Policy Research
Panel Chairs:  Demetra Smith Nightingale, U.S. Department of Labor
Discussants:  Helen Parker, U.S. Department of Labor (Retired) and Carolyn Heinrich, Vanderbilt University

The WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs: 15-Month Impacts from a Nationally Representative Randomized Control Trial
Dana Rotz, Sheena McConnell, Peter Schochet, Kenneth Fortson and Paul Burkander, Mathematica Policy Research

Net Impact of WIA Services in Washington State
Kevin Hollenbeck, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

With a growing need for a more skilled workforce, providing effective and efficient employment and training services is an important national priority. The Adult and Dislocated Worker programs authorized under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) are two of the nation’s largest publicly funded employment and training programs. In 2013, these programs together served about 8 million job seekers at a cost of about $2 billion. In July 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) replaced WIA and reauthorized these programs. Although WIOA made important changes to the public workforce system, the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs will, for the most part, continue to offer a similar set of services to job seekers.

The three papers presented in this panel use a variety of techniques and data sources to estimate the effectiveness of these WIA programs. They examine the extent to which they improve employment and earnings outcomes and reduce dependence on the receipt of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and other public assistance. One of the papers examines whether these programs are cost effective. These findings will be informative for policymakers and program administrators as WIOA is implemented in the coming years.

Although all three papers provide estimates of the impacts of these programs, they vary in the research design, the sites, the data used, and the estimating strategies. The first two papers use nonexperimental techniques and administrative data and present impacts for one or two states. The third paper uses an experimental design, both survey and administrative data, and presents impacts for 28 randomly selected sites. These variations will encourage a discussion of different designs and estimation strategies, survey versus administrative data, and how the impacts of WIA programs may vary across time, location, and the characteristics of individuals served.

This panel brings together practitioners, academics, and researchers to discuss the impacts of these programs. Our proposed panel members include researchers working in the government and academic, nonprofit, and for-profit settings; scholars with decades of experience evaluating employment and training programs; and promising young researchers. The panel will be chaired by Dr. Demetra Smith Nightingale, the Chief Evaluation Officer of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). We propose two discussants: (1) Dr. Carolyn Heinrich, who is an expert in workforce programs and conducted a non-experimental evaluation of these WIA programs and (2) Dr. Helen Parker, who began her career in workforce development as a front-line worker in 1974 and more recently was a Regional Administrator for DOL’s Employment and Training Administration for over a decade. Dr. Parker will bring a policymaker and practitioners lens to the findings of the three studies.
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