In times of economic instability, it is even more important to implement proven workforce development approaches. But how can we know if our program or initiative is effective? Workforce Systems Strategies offers three informative research and evaluation resources to help answer this question. Learn about using evidenced-based practices, advancing evidence-based decision-making, and applying research methodologies to assess your programs’ effectiveness.

Making the Case for What Works: Using Evidence-Based Practices to Support Innovation
If research and evaluation activities are new for you and you want to know how to apply evidence-based practices to workforce programs without starting from scratch, this tutorial is for you! This resource uses relatable scenarios from workforce development practitioners to define evidence-based practices and describe how they can be used to inform the development of new workforce initiatives. It also includes links to research resources and logic models that can help you communicate your workforce program’s value to stakeholders.

How to Use Qualitative Research in a Workforce Collaborative
This tool, developed by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, describes how to evaluate workforce program effectiveness. Qualitative data on participants’ and other system stakeholders’ experiences with the program, combined with quantitative data, can yield a complete view of a program’s overall effectiveness. This research approach uses qualitative data are collected from several stakeholder groups like workforce program participants, employers, and instructors gathered through multiple methods such as direct observation, participant interviews, and site visits. The gathered information is further analyzed and synthesized with quantitative data to reveal promising and problematic interventions. Read the tool to find examples of qualitative questions, links to case studies, and see how effective your workforce programs are.

Advancing Evidence-Based Decision Making: A Toolkit on Recognizing and Conducting Opportunistic Experiments in the Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Policy Area
As workforce agencies continue to face limited resources and increased accountability, reliable and timely research-based evidence on the effects of workforce programs and policies is urgently needed. This toolkit, also developed by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, presents an alternative evaluation approach known as an opportunistic experiment (OE) to create timely and robust evidence to inform policy and program decisions. An OE embeds an experiment into a planned policy action or program change and uses existing administrative data to produce evidence on short-term outcomes. While this toolkit was designed for human service program stakeholders, the detailed steps on conducting an OE are easily transferrable to workforce development settings.