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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Eyster, Lauren; Barnow, Burt S.; Anderson, Theresa; Conway, Maureen; Lerman, Robert I.; Jain, Ranita; Kuehn, Daniel; Montes, Marcela
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This brief summarizes findings from implementation, impact, and cost-benefit evaluations of Accelerating Opportunity (AO). AO is a career pathways initiative launched in 2011 that aims to help adults with low basic skills earn valued occupational credentials, obtain well-paying jobs, and sustain rewarding careers. AO was one of the first efforts to replicate and scale key elements of Washington state's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model. The evaluation took place in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The evidence shows that AO holds promise for changing college systems and promoting educational gains among low-skilled adults. Earnings impacts are mixed. (Author abstract) 

    This brief summarizes findings from implementation, impact, and cost-benefit evaluations of Accelerating Opportunity (AO). AO is a career pathways initiative launched in 2011 that aims to help adults with low basic skills earn valued occupational credentials, obtain well-paying jobs, and sustain rewarding careers. AO was one of the first efforts to replicate and scale key elements of Washington state's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model. The evaluation took place in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The evidence shows that AO holds promise for changing college systems and promoting educational gains among low-skilled adults. Earnings impacts are mixed. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Seefeldt, Kristin
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This brief summarizes findings from interviews conducted with participants in Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), a rigorous evaluation of nine career pathways programs. Program applicants were randomly assigned to a treatment group that could access the career pathways program or a control group that could not. This brief describes the experiences of interviewees in the treatment group, two years after entering the study. Respondents reflect on the progress they’ve made on their chosen career pathways. (Author abstract) 

    This brief summarizes findings from interviews conducted with participants in Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), a rigorous evaluation of nine career pathways programs. Program applicants were randomly assigned to a treatment group that could access the career pathways program or a control group that could not. This brief describes the experiences of interviewees in the treatment group, two years after entering the study. Respondents reflect on the progress they’ve made on their chosen career pathways. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Seefeldt, Kristin
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This brief summarizes findings from in-depth interviews with 39 members of the control group in the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study. PACE is a rigorous evaluation of nine career pathways programs. PACE used an experimental design in which eligible program applicants were randomly assigned to a treatment group that could access the program under study or a control group that could not. In order to accurately interpret impact findings, it is important that evaluators understand the experiences of control group members. (Author abstract)   

    This brief summarizes findings from in-depth interviews with 39 members of the control group in the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study. PACE is a rigorous evaluation of nine career pathways programs. PACE used an experimental design in which eligible program applicants were randomly assigned to a treatment group that could access the program under study or a control group that could not. In order to accurately interpret impact findings, it is important that evaluators understand the experiences of control group members. (Author abstract)   

  • Individual Author: Kendall, Jessica R.
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2018

    Posted by Jessica R. Kendall, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    The demand for a highly skilled workforce continues to rise. While the unemployment rate today is low, many skilled positions remain open as American workers’ educational levels or skills don’t match business’s needs. Simply put, increasing the capacities of low-skilled workers is necessary.

    Earlier welfare-to-work evaluations, however, showed educational or training programs, by themselves, had minimal positive effects on participants’ employment outcomes or welfare receipt.

    But, since the Great Recession, next-generation strategies have begun to take more comprehensive...

    Posted by Jessica R. Kendall, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    The demand for a highly skilled workforce continues to rise. While the unemployment rate today is low, many skilled positions remain open as American workers’ educational levels or skills don’t match business’s needs. Simply put, increasing the capacities of low-skilled workers is necessary.

    Earlier welfare-to-work evaluations, however, showed educational or training programs, by themselves, had minimal positive effects on participants’ employment outcomes or welfare receipt.

    But, since the Great Recession, next-generation strategies have begun to take more comprehensive approaches to help individuals acquire in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials. They do so, in part, by increasing coordination across education, training, human service, and business efforts.

    A joint letter released by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, in 2012 (and later with additional agencies in 2016), promoted these career pathways approaches as participant-centered and efficient. They defined career pathways as "a series of connected education and training strategies and support services that enable individuals to secure industry relevant certifications and obtain employment within an occupational area and to advance to higher levels of future education and employment in that area."

    Since then and based on a growing body of literature, federal agencies have developed tools and resources for the field to design and implement career pathway strategies. The Department of Labor’s 2016 toolkit suggests six key elements to a career pathways approach: (1) building cross-agency partnerships and clarifying roles; (2) identifying industry sectors and engaging employers; (3) designing education and training programs; (4) identifying funding needs and sources; (5) aligning policies and programs; and (6) measuring systems change and performance.

    In addition to resources, early analyses from several evaluations—many of which are federally funded—increase the body of evidence assessing the effectiveness of career pathway strategies, including:

    Accelerating Opportunity (AO): This quasi-experimental study assessed the education and employment outcomes for low-skilled adults participating in integrated career pathway programs at community or technical colleges across four states. The impact analysis showed that AO students earned more credentials with fewer credits, suggesting an accelerated learning path. AO also showed strong positive earning impacts for some subgroups of students (e.g., those recruited from career and technical education (CTE) programs or adult education), but not significant gains for all students during the several quarter follow-up period.

    Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT): The U.S. Department of Labor’s four rounds of TAACCCT grants aim to increase the ability of community colleges to offer career-focused education and training that meets employer demands. Data and results to date show that over 60 percent of program participants have either completed the program or were retained as of 2015. In comparison, a 2016 study found that about 66 percent of students at two-year institutions failed to earn any credential within six years. Of employed participants, 32 percent experienced a wage increase at some point after starting the program. Almost 60 percent of completers who were employed before or during the first three months after exit kept their jobs at least through the following two quarters.

    The Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE): The PACE project is a rigorous evaluation of nine career pathway strategies. Using a random assignment methodology, the evaluation is assessing programs in community colleges, community-based organizations, and workforce agencies. An early report from the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County site found that its Health Careers for All program increased the number of participants enrolled in healthcare-related training in an 18-month follow-up period. There was no impact, however, on credential receipt or total hours of training. Later reports will assess the program’s impacts on job placement and earnings. Key features of the program include case management services, tuition-free access to training, employment services, and financial assistance. Similarly, an early report from the Pima Community College site in Tucson, Arizona found increased hours in healthcare occupational training and credentials received among program participants. The program had limited effects on employment 18-months after random assignment. Despite this, evaluators found positive impacts on self-assessed progress towards career goals, increased confidence in career knowledge, and access to career supports. Key features of Pima’s program included five healthcare career paths with stackable credentials, career counseling, scholarships, compressed basic skills programming, and job search assistance.

    As a next-generation, education and employment strategy, career pathways approaches show promise. Ongoing studies will provide a more in-depth understanding of their short and long-term impacts on helping low-income individuals not only increase their skills but find careers that last and improve family self-sufficiency.

    Learn more about career pathways from the SSRC:

    The SSRC Library contains numerous reports and stakeholder resources about career pathways, including:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more. 

  • Individual Author: Martinson, Karin; Copson, Elizabeth; Gardiner, Karen; Kitrosser, Daniel
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This report documents the implementation and early impacts of the Carreras en Salud (Careers in Health) program, operated by Instituto del Progreso Latino, in Chicago, Illinois. The Carreras en Salud program is one promising effort aimed at helping low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete occupational training that can lead to increased employment and higher earnings. A distinctive feature of this program is its focus on training for low-income Latinos for employment in healthcare occupations, primarily Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). It is among nine career pathways programs being evaluated in the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families. The Carreras en Salud program consists of five elements: (1) a structured healthcare training pathway, starting at low skill levels; (2) contextualized and accelerated basic skills and ESL instruction; (3) academic advising and non-academic supports; (4) financial assistance; and (5) employment services. Using a rigorous...

    This report documents the implementation and early impacts of the Carreras en Salud (Careers in Health) program, operated by Instituto del Progreso Latino, in Chicago, Illinois. The Carreras en Salud program is one promising effort aimed at helping low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete occupational training that can lead to increased employment and higher earnings. A distinctive feature of this program is its focus on training for low-income Latinos for employment in healthcare occupations, primarily Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). It is among nine career pathways programs being evaluated in the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families. The Carreras en Salud program consists of five elements: (1) a structured healthcare training pathway, starting at low skill levels; (2) contextualized and accelerated basic skills and ESL instruction; (3) academic advising and non-academic supports; (4) financial assistance; and (5) employment services. Using a rigorous research design, the study found that the Carreras en Salud program increased hours of occupational training and basic skills instruction received and the attainment of education credentials within an 18-month follow-up period. The program also increased employment in the healthcare field and resulted in a reduction of participants reporting financial hardship. Future reports will examine whether these effects translate into gains in employment and earnings. (Author introduction)

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