The Ready to Work Partnership Grant Evaluation:Final Report of the Impact Study of Four Employment Services Programs for the Long-Term Unemployed

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The Ready to Work Partnership Grant Evaluation:Final Report of the Impact Study of Four Employment Services Programs for the Long-Term Unemployed

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The Employment and Training Administration awarded four-year grants totaling $170 million to 24 grantees to operate the Ready to Work Partnership (RTW) Grant Program from 2015 to 2019. RTW partnerships of workforce agencies, training providers, employers, and other local organizations established programs to prepare long-term unemployed workers for employment in occupations being filled by foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. Grantee services included staff guidance on career planning, occupational training, work-based training, employment readiness courses, and job search assistance with considerable discretion given to program design.

An implementation study examined the design, operation, and sustainability of the four selected RTW programs: Maryland Tech Connection - Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation (Anne Arundel, MD); Skills to Work in Technology and Job Search Accelerator Programs - Jewish Vocational Services (San Francisco, CA), Finger Lakes Hired Program - RochesterWorks! (Rochester, NY), and Reboot Northwest - Worksystems, Inc. (Multnomah and Washington counties, OR). This final report presents random assignment results from the impact study and addresses two overarching research questions:

  • What was the impact for individuals offered the RTW program on the outcomes (e.g., receipt of program services, educational attainment, employment, and earnings)? The evaluation estimates the impact of the offer of the RTW program compared to not being offered the RTW program, but potentially enrolling in other programs or services available in the community.
  • How did those impacts vary with study member baseline characteristics? The evaluation focuses on differences in impacts based on education, age, employment status, and gender.

Key Findings: The RTW programs provided a range of services, produced moderate impacts on service receipt, and increased the number of hours of employment readiness courses participants attended. The final report focuses on impacts on average quarterly earnings for the period from one year to 2.5 years after random assignment and any employment from one year to 2.5 years after random assignment. For the four grantees, the study did not detect a positive impact on average quarterly earnings or on any employment from 1 to 2.5 years after random assignment.

Researchers examined several explanations for the lack of detectable program impacts including whether the customized approach offered the appropriate content or intensity of services to improve employment outcomes for RTW participants, who were substantially older and better educated than the unemployed workers typically served by the workforce system. Recent studies have revealed how older displaced workers face unique challenges to employment, including age discrimination, emotional distress due to unemployment, and outdated skills.