Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
Current Policy, Prominent Programs, and Evidence
This paper reviews the available evidence supporting various types of career and technical education programs, touching on both the amount of evidence available in each area and its level of rigor.
Findings from Family Rewards 2.0
A program in Memphis and the Bronx offered cash incentives, coupled with family guidance, to poor families for meeting certain health care, education, and work milestones. The program increased income and reduced poverty, increased dental visits and health status, reduced employment somewhat, and had few effects on students’ education.
Lessons from Implementing a Rigorous Academic Program for At-Risk Young People
In Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school and who are at risk of dropping out simultaneously earn credits toward a high school diploma and a postsecondary degree. This report describes the program model and shares lessons learned from its implementation at three program sites.
Preliminary Implementation Findings from the SaveUSA Evaluation
SaveUSA, a pilot program in New York City, Newark, San Antonio, and Tulsa, offers a matched savings account to low-income tax filers, building on the opportunity presented by tax-time refunds, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit. This 12-page brief offers early implementation findings.
While we know how to help low-income individuals prepare for and find work, too many end up in low-wage jobs and never advance up the career ladder. This policy memo describes what we’ve learned about advancement strategies — both those that show promise and those that don’t work.
Too many students enter college underprepared, drop out, and never earn a credential that would give them access to stable, well-paid jobs. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes some promising college readiness programs that can provide students with the skills they need to successfully complete college, but cautions that more evidence is needed.
Implementation and Final Impacts of the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) Demonstration
WASC sought to increase the incomes of low-wage workers by stabilizing employment, improving skills, increasing earnings, and easing access to work supports. The program increased workers’ receipt of work supports. In the two sites that eased access to funds for training, WASC increased the receipt of certificates and licenses and increased earnings in the third year.
Lessons from the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Project
Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. This report describes results and draws lessons from rigorous evaluations of 12 programs seeking to improve employment retention and advancement among low-wage workers.
Final Evidence from the UK Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Demonstration
The British ERA program’s distinctive combination of post-employment advisory support and financial incentives was designed to help low-income individuals who entered work sustain employment and advance in the labor market. It produced short-term earnings gains for two target groups but sustained increases in employment and earnings and positive benefit-cost results for the third target group, long-term unemployed individuals.