Publication DateDecember 2012
Publication URL
OverviewTo understand why some workforce development programs achieve success and how these factors may be quantified or measured to help improve the workforce system as a whole, several successful programs in Chicago were studied.

Author(s)Weigensberg, Elizabeth
Schlecht, Colleen
Laken, Faith
Goerge, Robert
Stagner, Matthew
Ballard, Peter
DeCoursey, Jan
Organizational Author(s)Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Funding SourceThe Ford Foundation
Summary"The workforce development system in Chicago and nationwide is multifaceted and includes public and private training providers that work with individuals of all ages and abilities. This study looks at several successful programs in Chicago; it attempts to understand the factors that may explain why they achieve success of different types, and how these factors may be quantified or measured to help improve the system. The study assesses the influence of a range of factors, from individual participant characteristics, program and practice elements, and provider organizational aspects, to the broader set of external relationships, on achievement of successful outcomes for workforce development programs. Specifically, the study aims to identify the influences within each of these levels
that lead to programs’ success, how and if these factors are currently measured, and recommend improvements to the data collection methods and data system that currently exist within the workforce
development system." (p. 1). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings and Recommendations"The workforce development programs in this study were asked about the array of factors that relate to successful program outcomes and to what extent they collect data on or measure these factors. They all use a variety of management information systems (MIS) to collect data and assess outcome measures. The people we interviewed identified many challenges and limitations with all of these data systems, individually and collectively, and saw a need for more robust and improved measures and an improved, integrated data management information system to better assess program process and outcomes.

Improved measures
Recommendation 1: Define a set of common measures across programs that can help establish some universal standards while allowing the flexibility to accommodate additional measures that individual programs find valuable or funders require.
Recommendation 2: Develop longitudinal measures on individuals to assess outcomes over time.
Recommendation 3: Analyze outcomes by subpopulations, including participant characteristics and barriers to employment, in order to develop risk-adjusted performance expectations.
Recommendation 4: Expand what is measured in program process and outcomes, including factors related to the individual client, program, organization, and contextual measures of external engagement" (p. 2). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

In addition, the authors identified a number of factors that they believe contribute to the success of their programs and organizations and to successful outcomes for program participants. The following were the most significant factors of successful workforce programs:

• throughout and extensive intake assessments (p. 3)

• a comprehensive program approach to training and engaging participants (e.g. addressing psychosocial challenges and basic needs) (p.3)

• flexibility in the provider organizations' operations (p. 4) strong organizational leadership and staff (p. 4)

• plans for growth amid funding challenges (p. 4) treatment of employer partners as customers (p. 5)

• strong engagement with employer partners (p. 5) collaboration between workforce providers (p. 5)

• community partners such as schools, healthcare providers, other community-based organizations, and many others, provide many services to the organizations' clients (p. 6)

• engagement in policy and advocacy (p. 6)” (Abstractor: Website Staff)
Cost InformationNo cost information available.
Related Resources on Workforce3One

Effective Case Management

Integrating Intake Among Workforce Partners

Using Data in Multi-Agency Collaborations: Guiding Performance to Ensure Accountability and Improve Programs

Target Populations
Programs/Funding Streams
Cities, Regions, Program NamesChicago, Illinois, Inspiration Corporation
Chicago, Illinois, Instituto del Progreso Latino
Chicago, Illinois, Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC)
Chicago, Illinois, National Latino Education Institute (NLEI)
Chicago, Illinois, SER Central States
Chicago, Illinois, The Cara Program


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