Encouraging evidence on a sector-focused advancement strategy: Two-year impacts from the WorkAdvance demonstration
This report summarizes the two-year findings of a rigorous random assignment evaluation of the WorkAdvance model, a sectoral training and advancement initiative. Launched in 2011, WorkAdvance goes beyond the previous generation of employment programs by introducing demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs that have career pathways. The model is heavily influenced by the positive findings from the Sectoral Employment Impact Study (SEIS) completed in 2010. A major component of the WorkAdvance model, in common with the programs studied in the SEIS, is formal training offering industry-recognized certifications, reflecting the hypothesis that skills acquisition is necessary for advancement. The model also requires providers to be far more employer facing than traditional training programs, taking into account multiple employers’ changing skill requirements, employee assessment practices, and personnel needs. This report presents the implementation, cost, participation, and two-year economic impacts of WorkAdvance. The economic results are based on unemployment insurance earnings records and a second-year follow-up survey. The WorkAdvance program operations and evaluation are funded through the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a public-private partnership administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. This SIF project is led by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity in collaboration with MDRC.