Report Summary

IWPR report profiles effective, replicable strategies that meet trainees’ needs for supportive services.

Job training programs typically focus on teaching occupational skills—everything from data entry to truck driving, and customer service to carpentry, among many others.   But recent IWPR research reveals that participants—female and male— are more likely to finish their training and land a job thereafter if they can access needed supports such as transportation and child care.  See Getting to the Finish Line: The Availability and Impact of Supportive Services in the Workforce Development System

Another new IWPR report provides real-world examples of supportive mechanisms that work.  The research profiles eight job training programs that use different approaches to meet participants’ supportive service needs.  The programs help a variety of populations, target different industries, and serve a diverse array of communities from across the country.

The study’s authors, IWPR’s Julie Anderson, M.A. and Cynthia Hess, Ph.D.,  selected programs based on their size, successful outcomes, sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and replicability, among other features.  The report highlights programs that have not been studied extensively in workforce development research, but that offer examples of service provision that may be attainable for average organizations.

By concentrating on replicable approaches, the study can serve as a practical guide for workforce practitioners.

One of the programs highlighted is Climb Wyoming, which trains low-income single mothers for nontraditional occupations such as truck driving, pipefitting, and HVAC repair, among others.  Climb begins assessing supportive service needs during the application process.  Both participants and staff thus understand early on what supports may be required, both during the 12-week program and beyond.  The program has a licensed mental health clinician on staff who facilitates group discussion and service delivery.  Climb’s model includes both direct and referral services.  Climb staff on site teach financial education and parenting classes; they provide referrals for child care help, emergency cash, health care, and substance abuse counseling, among other services.

Another approach comes from the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area, where over 130 community-based organizations, public agencies, colleges, and funders collaborate to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery while striving to avoid duplication.  Raise the Floor in Florence, Kentucky, serves women enrolled in manufacturing programs at a local community college.  The program directly recruits, trains, and places participants in post-program manufacturing jobs.  Raise the Floor connects participants with one or more of its partners—including the Brighton Center in Newport, Kentucky and the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati— to obtain help with child care, housing, transportation, and other services.  Forming alliances of this sort can help job training programs focus on what they do best while ensuring that participants’ needs are met by other specialists.

The other programs examined are:

  • Building Futures in Providence, Rhode Island, offers pre-apprenticeship training in the building trades and provides bus passes and gas cards, food cards, emergency cash assistance, and help accessing public benefits;
  • JVS Boston trains participants for jobs as certified nursing assistants and pharmacy technicians; the program supplies child care, transportation help, and financial coaching to trainees, who include people with disabilities, veterans, refugees, and ex-offenders;
  • Seattle Jobs Initiative partners with three community-based organizations to connect participants with supportive services and skills training at local colleges for occupations in the automotive/trade/logistics; health care; office; and manufacturing sectors; and
  • Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) is a Mercedes, TX-based program that supports low-income college students pursuing high-demand occupations by assigning each a career counselor who helps identify support needs and connect students with financial help, child care, and referrals for other services.

Early assessment, dedicated staff, group delivery, collaboration among service providers—the report details how these and other methods can help job training programs meet the needs of their participants.   Program administrators, funders, legislators, and community groups can find a wealth of information and practical approaches in this important study.