Evidence in Action: Five Stories of Evidence Delivering Results in the Workforce System

America Forward’s Evidence in Action blog series highlights the voices of social innovation organizations, including those in the America Forward Coalition and our network partners, the results-driven solutions our community has to our country’s most pressing social problems, and the evidence-based federal programs that are critical to scaling the impact of this work. Follow along on Twitter using #EvidenceinAction to stay updated on the series.

Compiled by Jessica Crawford

The organizations that make up the America Forward Coalition are doing the hard work of helping low-income individuals and others facing employment challenges make progress toward a career pathway as well as a broader role as responsible citizens. To ensure students, youth, and adults from all backgrounds succeed economically, America Forward and the America Forward Coalition believe we must rethink the way we invest public resources as well as learn from what is identified to work and expand upon that work.

As policymakers consider federal workforce policies and funding, it is critical to understand where evidence-based programs are having a positive impact on individuals throughout the workforce system. Here are five #EvidenceinAction stories highlighting how evidence is delivering results in the workforce development space.

  1. Exclusive: JPMorgan Chase to grant $200K to Juma Ventures to employ hundreds of low-income youth in Atlanta [Atlanta Business Chronicle] – “For 24 years, Juma has shown that when youth facing significant life challenges are provided support and coaching, these young adults bring drive, resilience, and grit to their work which help make them valued employees,” Atlanta Site Director for Juma Ventures Robert Lewis said in a statement. “Joint partnerships between organizations like Juma and JPMorgan Chase are helping to support the development of America’s future workforce.”…Juma’s social enterprise model operates concessions businesses across the United States that provide transitional jobs to youth in a supportive work environment. Working at major sports and entertainment venues, they receive on-the-job training and support to develop skills in areas relevant to the high demand hospitality, retail, and food service industries. They also receive support opening bank accounts, financial education, and educational resources to ensure they are prepared for career success and economic well-being. Mike Marino, the head of the J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Atlanta, said economic success is increasingly out of reach for too many young people.”Working with Juma Ventures, we will be able to help youth in Atlanta gain the skills needed for a successful career,” he said in a statement.”
  2. Farm Teams: A Workforce Innovation for the 21st Century [Triple Pundit] – “American businesses are increasingly on record with their frustrations about finding well-prepared workers. They’re leaving positions unfilled or tolerating excessively high levels of turnover. What they’re not doing is connecting with well-prepared training and workforce preparation…How do we get out of this vicious cycle?…A growing national cohort of social enterprises could be a ready-made starting point. These mission-oriented businesses operate with a double bottom line. They earn revenue by selling quality products and services while providing jobs and training in a supportive work environment to people who are overcoming significant challenges, and need coaching, support and a lower-risk environment to prepare for work in the big leagues…social enterprises partner with employers, making sure attention is paid and support provided to newly hired employees at any level of the organizational hierarchy, fostering productivity and job retention.”
  3. Getting High-School Grads Into the Closed-Off World of Tech [The Atlantic] – “This is Year Up, a training program that serves more than 3,000 students nationwide every year and that is effective in getting people without college degrees into good jobs. The model solves a growing problem in a tight economy: Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people are stuck in low-paying jobs with little room for upward mobility, while employers complain that they can’t find enough qualified workers for jobs that don’t require college degrees. Year Up takes students who might not otherwise know how to negotiate the working world and gives them the skills they need to make it in in-demand jobs. After six months of intense training in a classroom and counseling from mentors, it connects them with six-month internships in fields like business, technology, and finance. The students in the San Jose classroom will move on to internships doing IT support or as administrative support staff at companies like Google, Salesforce, Facebook, and Tesla. In many cases, those internships will lead to full-time employment…Year Up is one of a handful of training programs that are proving that it is possible to help unskilled workers move into better jobs. The key, experts say, is that Year Up and other successful programs have partnerships with employers in growing sectors of the economy who commit to hiring participants. “There wasn’t much evidence that job training works,” said Mark Elliott, the president of the Economic Mobility Corporation, which evaluates programs that try to help low-income people find lasting, steady careers. “But having a program that trains people for a good job in a growing sector of the economy is what shows impact.”
  4. The Power of Career- and Employer-Focused Training and Education [MDRC] – “Even in good economic times, many adults – particularly those with just a high school education – struggle to get and keep jobs that pay enough to support their families and permit upward mobility. At the same time, some employers report difficulty finding people with the right skills to meet their needs. Programs that target in-demand industries or sectors and heavily involve employers in training and work-based learning are effective when well implemented. These approaches can be used for different populations at different stages of their education and employment trajectory – from high school students to the long-term unemployed – and help them build pathways to careers. They can assist dislocated workers and those without 21st -century skills to (re)gain a foothold in the job market, while helping employers find the skilled workers they need.”
  5. YouthBuild USA [YouTube] – This video from 2009 tells the story of YouthBuild and showcases the effectiveness of the YouthBuild program in rebuilding communities and lives.

Jessica Crawford is America Forward’s Director of Strategic Partnerships

Previous Article Evidence in Action: Strengthening Workforce Development through Pay for Performance May 4, 2017 < Next Article Evidence in Action: From Innovation to Impact May 4, 2017 >

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