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Summaries of RCT Grants

Long-term follow-up of the WorkAdvance study, evaluating the effectiveness of four different sector-focused workforce development programs for unemployed and low wage working adults

The four programs provided career readiness and occupational skills training, along with job placement and postemployment services, targeted within sectors of their local economies with high quality jobs and opportunities for career advancement.

Grant Recipient: MDRC

Principal Investigators: Richard Hendra, Ph.D., MDRC

Kelsey Schaberg, MDRC

Term: 2021 - 2025

Funding: $282,637

Summary: This project would extend the long-term follow-up of the WorkAdvance study, an ongoing randomized controlled trial that is evaluating the effectiveness of four different workforce development programs for unemployed and low wage working adults with family income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The four programs provided career readiness and occupational skills training, along with job placement and postemployment services, targeted within sectors of their local economies with high quality jobs and opportunities for career advancement. Specifically, Per Scholas focused on careers in information technology in New York City; St. Nicks Alliance focused on environmental remediation and related occupations in New York City; Madison Strategies Group focused on transportation and manufacturing jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Towards Employment focused on health care and manufacturing sectors in northeast Ohio.

Within each site, low-income adults were randomly assigned to either a group that was offered program services or to a control group that was not. A total of 2,564 adults were randomly assigned across the four sites. Approximately six to eight years after random assignment, one program in particular – Per Scholas – was found to produce large, statistically significant impacts on annual earnings: the Per Scholas group’s average annual earnings in the sixth year after random assignment were $6,281, or 20 percent, higher than the control group’s earnings ($38,404 vs. $32,122). The other three programs’ annual earnings impacts were positive but smaller and not statistically significant.

Under this project, the researchers will extend the follow-up of the WorkAdvance study to ten years after random assignment, and will measure average annual earnings and the proportion of participants with high annual earnings (defined as earnings at or above the top quartile of earnings for the control group), using data from the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH).

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

Grants

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