Job Training that Works: Findings from the Sectoral Employment Impact Study

S. Maguire
J. Freely
C. Clymer
M. Conway
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Public/Private Ventures (PPV)
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

This brief reviews the findings of a 24-month study to assess the impact of sector-focused trainings on employability, wages, and benefits of low income or disadvantaged workers. Three organizations with at least a three-year history of providing workforce programs for a targeted occupation or cluster of occupations were chosen to participate and provide the training. The researchers surveyed by phone 1,285 people from the three sites to obtain background information on education, income level, and training program experience. Half of the group received sector-based services (treatment group) and the other half (control group) could not receive services from these programs but could seek training elsewhere. The follow-up sample of 1,014 participants was surveyed again between the 24th to 30th months after the baseline survey.

Five Key Findings emerged.

  1. Participants in sector-focused training programs earned significantly more than the control group members, with most of the earning gains taking place in the second year.
  2. Participants in sector-focused training were more likely to work and, in the second year, worked more consistently than control group members.
  3. Employed participants had significantly higher earnings than employed control group members.
  4. By the second year, employed program participants were working more hours and were earning higher hourly wages than employed controls.
  5. Program participants were significantly more likely to work in jobs that offered benefits.

Five Recommendations are based on the above findings.

  1. Invest in job training that is industry-focused or employer linked.
  2. Create flexible guidelines that enable programs to build on local knowledge and experience.
  3. Invest in programs that integrate a range of trainings and supports.
  4. Streamline funding regulations to support programs that serve people based on common career interests.
  5. Measure long-term outcomes and reward programs that achieve longer-termed success for participants.
Benefits and Uses

This is a rare study in adult and workforce education that uses experimental research to examine the impact of a particular approach to employment services. The study shows positive impacts on earnings, employment, and other relevant outcomes for those who go through sectoral programs. We look forward to reading the full report and to hearing whether the authors can identify the elements of the sectoral approach that have the most positive impact.

Although the data are based on self-reported wages, etc. rather than objectively collected information, and the methods are not described in detail, the summarized findings are useful for practice, especially for regions considering a sectoral approach. A more complete report is promised at a later date. The Endnotes provide resources to learn more about sector training, job training, and workforce development.

Methods the resource used to collect and analyze the data for the research: The researchers asked the question: How does a sector-based approach to training impact participants? Random sampling from three successful programs was used to create a treatment and a control group. Baseline and post-program telephone surveys were used to collect self-reports of participants’ education, work histories, income level, living situation, and experience with programs. Results were summarized and compared.