Panel: Demand Driven Training Programs for Low Wage Workers
(Employment and Training)

Monday, June 13, 2016: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
Clement House, 2nd Floor, Room 04 (London School of Economics)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Discussants:  Mike Daly, U.K. Department for Work and Pensions
Panel Chairs:  Carrie Deacon, Innovation Lab Programme Manager, Nesta
Panel Organizers:  Richard Hendra, MDRC

Running a Demand Driven Program, a Practitioner Perspective
Angie Kamath, Per Scholas Institute of Technology

In recent years, the workforce development field has refocused on skills development as a key to upward mobility. Two related but slightly different models of skill based advancement have emerged. The first approach emphasizes a sectoral approach to training which involves employers heavily in programming so as to create a pipeline from training into work. The second approach emphasizes the development of career pathways involving sequential coordinated training and other employment services that leads to advancement. The two approaches are both demand driven and both focus on specific industries or sectors. They are also complementary: the sectoral approach can be considered one step in a career pathway. The proposed panel would focus on the latest rigorous evidence supporting these approaches – the results of a Randomized Control Trial evaluation of the WorkAdvance program. The panel will be highly relevant to policy making in the United Kingdom given the focus on strategies for building the skills of low-income populations to improve their economic circumstances and in-work progression. Workadvance is being evaluated as part of the Obama Administration’s Social Innovation Fund which aims to test promising policy innovations and scale up those with solid evidence of effectiveness. WorkAdvance helps participants prepare for and enter quality jobs in selected sectors with opportunities for career growth. Once placed, participants are provided further assistance to guide them on a path of career advancement. The WorkAdvance impact analysis will provide the first rigorous evidence of whether the promising results from the P/PV Sector Impacts Study replicate for different providers and different economic conditions. This panel will present the impact results, and will also include critical perspectives on the program’s implementation and the larger policy environment needed to support demand driven career pathways programs. The first paper will set the stage by bringing a program and policy-based perspective on how to build the evidence base for these programs and simultaneously build up the policy and funding support for them. David Berman of the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity will discuss how the City of New York and its partners have moved towards sector-based career pathways models and how WorkAdvance was designed as part of that evidence-building process. He will also discuss the larger challenges of systems change in workforce development policy and programs. Richard Hendra from MDRC will present the second paper which will present the economic impacts of the WorkAdvance program. Hendra will review the impacts and share the program’s effect on the employment and overall economic situation of participants. The third paper will provide the practitioner perspective on running demand driven training programs. In that paper, Angie Kamath, Executive director of Social Ventures and Innovation at Per Scholas, one of the nonprofit organizations administering WorkAdvance, will discuss how Per Scholas engages employer partners and how to create strong ‘value add’ employer relationships. She will also discuss the Per Scholas approach to sectoral training which involves a combination of training, financial counselling, and coaching, backed up by a state of the art learning management system.
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