Workforce development programs do a better job when participants get supportive services.
Supportive services are a critical feature of programs aimed at helping underserved populations succeed in the job market. That’s the message of IWPR’s recent Job Training Success Project. The five-report series demonstrates the importance of providing trainees services such as transportation assistance, child care, and emergency cash, among others. Supports are associated with improved training and employment outcomes even when controlling for factors such as gender, race, age, marital status, education, number of dependent children, and immigrant status, among other factors. This finding has significant implications for program design, funding, and service delivery going forward.
The Project’s summary report lays out central findings from IWPR’s research. Among the highlights:
Access to supportive services helped participants stay in their training program.
In the spring of 2016, IWPR conducted a nationwide survey of administrators in workforce development programs. Administrators from 168 skills training programs responded to the online survey. Ninety-seven percent reported that supportive services are important factors helping participants to stay in the program. As one administrator concluded,
Supportive services are critical. All of the training and job placement efforts in the world aren’t going to be effective if the trainee can’t get to/from work, doesn’t have child care resources, or can’t overcome other barriers to getting and keeping the job.
The researchers also surveyed participants in job training programs. During the summer and fall of 2016, nearly 1,900 trainees from across the country responded to the online survey. Of these, roughly four-fifths reported facing one or more obstacles while in training, including difficulty paying bills, transportation problems, health concerns, and child care issues, among others. At least 80 percent of participants who received one or more supports said each support was important to their ability to remain in the program.
Receiving services significantly increased participants’ chances of completing training – regardless of gender, race, age, education, marital status, number of dependent children, and a host of other factors.
The researchers reported that program completion rates increased significantly when participants received supportive services. Further, completion rates were highest among trainees who received the most (three or more) services.
Access to supportive services was significant across a wide range of demographic characteristics. Participants who faced obstacles were more likely to complete training when they received services addressing their needs. The probability that a participant would complete his or her program increased by 11 percentage points for each such service. This finding remained constant across gender, race, age, education, marital status, number of dependent children, adult dependents, and immigrant status. Meeting trainees’ support needs was important regardless of region, program setting, and the ease or difficulty of participating in training.
Program assistance in accessing services, especially via a case manager, improved participants’ chances of getting a job post-program.
In a key finding, the researchers reported that trainees whose program helped them obtain support services were significantly more likely to get a job after finishing the program. Over three-fourths of participants receiving support with the help of their program found work after completing training; among trainees who did not receive such assistance, just 60 percent got a job after the program.
The method of delivering supports significantly influenced program outcomes. Trainees who had a case manager helping them obtain support services were substantially more likely to get a post-training job than those who case manager did not help them access supports –26 percentage points. The positive impact of a case manager remained regardless of demographic characteristics including gender, race, age, education, marital status, number of dependent children, adult dependents, and immigrant status.
The full report is available online at: