To 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.
"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 levelsthat 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 workforcedevelopment system." (p. 1). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & 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) • 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)