Groundbreaking Survey Finds Access to Services Like Child Care and Transportation Can Impact Success in Job Training Programs

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 28, 2017

IWPR Contact: Jennifer Clark | 202-785-5100 | clark@iwpr.org

Washington, DC— Receiving transportation assistance, child care, and other supportive services may improve the chances of completing workforce development programs and finding a job, according to results from a national survey of job training participants released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). The survey, which collected responses from 1,887 current or former job training participants, is the largest survey to explore the relationship between supportive services and program and employment outcomes and the first to examine which services participants need most.

Services that were most valued by training participants include transportation (92 percent who received the service said they highly valued it), child care (90 percent of child care recipients highly valued it), and health care services (90 percent) were the most valued supportive services. When participants with unmet needs were asked what supports they wished they received (or received more of), they most often said transportation assistance (33 percent), help obtaining clothing and shoes (29 percent), or housing assistance (29 percent). (Assistance with transportation and with clothing and shoes were also among the top five most commonly received services.)

A substantial share of mothers and fathers said they faced some type of child care problem while in training (64 percent of mothers and 46 percent of fathers). Among parents who received child care assistance, one in three (34 percent) said they could not have attended training without this help, which was particularly true for women with young children. Mothers were more than twice as likely as fathers to report not being able to attend training without the child care assistance they received (38 percent of women, compared with 17 percent of men).

“We have surveyed hundreds of job training administrators and nearly 2,000 participants and the vast majority say that supportive services are critical to success in job training programs,” said IWPR Associate Director of Research Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. “As the country grapples with how to train more workers for the jobs our economy needs to fill, we must include discussion of how supportive services play a role in workforce development.”

The IWPR Participant Survey provides a snapshot of the needs of job training participants in the sample, the availability of supportive services to address these challenges, and the role of these supports in improving outcomes. The survey also explores the respondents’ motivations for pursing job training and the impact of this training on their lives.

Forty-four percent of participants faced two or more challenges to completion while in job training. Difficulty paying bills (36 percent), transportation issues (27 percent), and an inflexible work schedule (18 percent) were the most common challenges participants faced. Over half of the single mothers (55 percent) in the sample reported struggling to pay bills while completing the program.

Receiving supportive services is associated with higher completion rates and greater likelihood of finding a job. Of those who received supportive services, 93 percent completed their program, compared with 85 percent of those who received no services. In addition, when controlling for a range of program and participant characteristics, the probability of finding a job increased by two percentage points each time an additional supportive service was received.

“Job training participants are real people with real lives. Many have family responsibilities or life challenges that may make completing a program difficult—but these are the same factors that make completing the program and finding a better paying job imperative. Supportive services can be the difference between whether job training success is possible or impossible for its participants,” Dr. Hess said.

This report is a part of IWPR’s Job Training Success Project, funded by the Walmart Foundation, which includes a research review of the role of supportive services in training success, a report on strategies job training programs around the country use to provide services, and a survey of 168 administrators of job training programs. The project seeks to improve knowledge about supports that enable women and men to receive the training they need to obtain better-paying jobs that provide economic security for themselves and their families.

The findings of the project are summarized in a summative report, also released today. A panel event in Washington, DC, will discuss the findings and the implications for workforce development policies. A livestream of the event will be available at 2pm on IWPR’s events page.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.

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