Super Session: Diverse Perspectives on Employment Models: What Works for Whom?
(Employment and Training Programs)

Saturday, November 9, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Ballroom A & B (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Laura Peck, Abt Associates, Inc.
Moderator:  Hilary Bruck, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Speakers:  Laura Peck, Abt Associates, Inc., Gary Bond, Westat, Robert Lerman, Urban Institute and Richard Hendra, MDRC

Not only unemployment and underemployment but also recent decades’ lack of wage growth strongly suggest the need for new approaches in employment and training policy and practice. This Super Session will consider four alternative employment models. In discussing each model, presenters will explain how it commonly operates in practice, target populations served, and evidence to date on the model’s effectiveness. A moderator will lead Q&A.

1. Transitional Jobs (TJ) programs involve a period of subsidized employment for participants as a means for getting them workforce exposure and experience. Evaluations of earlier TJ iterations show that after the subsidy period employment and earnings did not continue to grow. More recent evidence on the “enhanced” TJ model, where additional supports are provided, show greater promise. The model has been tested on a wide variety of groups, including those with complex barriers to employment or low labor force attachment, including people who have been incarcerated. (Dan Bloom, MDRC)

2. Career Pathways programs operate on the assumption that combinations of education, training, and work will propel people into a “career” more than just a job, and that this holds promise for a better future. Typically operated in workforce agencies or community colleges, they often have a sectoral focus, engage with local employers, and offer substantial support services to support participant success. Programs to date tend to enroll relatively motivated individuals, those interested in a “career.” Recent, rigorous evaluations point to meaningful education and training gains, and longer term analyses of earnings will be forthcoming before APPAM. (Laura Peck, Abt Associates)

3. Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an evidence-based supported employment model defined by eight principles, which include zero exclusion (no job readiness requirement), attention to client preferences, rapid job search, and long-term support. A validated fidelity scale measures program adherence. Originally developed for people with serious mental illness, IPS services increasingly have been extended to new populations, including people with substance use disorders, clients receiving public assistance, and other groups who face employment challenges. Experimental evaluations have found significant benefits for IPS across a range of populations. (Gary Bond, Westat)

4. Apprenticeships present an appealing approach to learning occupational, employability, and academic skills while contributing to production and earning wages. Apprenticeships link the content of training with employer demands, thereby avoiding mismatches and increasing the chances that apprentices use what they learn and obtain permanent positions after the training. Research has documented large gains in earnings from participating in apprenticeships as well as returns to organizations offering apprenticeships. The presentation will detail the rationale for expanding this mainstream approach to skill development, why it is particularly important for youth, including at-risk youth, and discuss recent apprenticeships initiatives and demonstrations in the U.S., highlighting key policies for stimulating employers to start and expand apprenticeships. (Robert Lerman, The Urban Institute)

Proposed Moderator: Hilary Bruck, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation.