Presents key results concerning one of the more important and controversial aspects of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA): increased emphasis on market and market-like mechanisms in the delivery of workforce services in the United States.

Based in part on a larger study of the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the report presented results concerning WIA’s emphasis on key market-based mechanisms: labor market information (LMI), provider certification, Individual Training Accounts (ITAs), and performance management systems. The authors “wrapped up with a series of conclusions and recommendations, both for informing the WIA reauthorization process…and for providing guidance to the European Social Fund” (p.2). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: The Use of Market Mechanisms in U.S. Workforce Programs: Lessons for WIA Reauthorization and the European Social Fund


Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors drew the following conclusions: • “States and localities in the study sample embraced newly devolved authority and responsibility for workforce investment under WIA, giving rise to an increasingly varied workforce development system across the country” (p.16). • “The current approach to measuring and managing performance under WIA did not fit well with the intergovernmental approach to U.S. workforce policy that had evolved in recent decades” (p.16). • “A number of new market mechanisms introduced by WIA, including ITAs and, to a lesser extent, provider certification processes, appeared to work better than expected” (p.17). Author recommendations for WIA reauthorization included: • “WIA should improve and substantially tighten data collection and reporting by states and local workforce boards systemwide” (p.19). • “WIA should return to funding, developing, and fostering the use of better LMI and LMI-related tools for use by local workforce boards, employers, and participants, as well as state planners” (p.19). • “WIA should also do more to encourage and support the provision of skills training in growth sectors of the economy, whether through the use of ITAs or other means” (p.19). • “Congress should broaden the ETP process for provider certification beyond WIA to ensure that it is more balanced and comprehensive, not just coming from WIA” (p.20). • “Congress should establish a mechanism in WIA and related workforce and education legislation for carefully reviewing the ‘Common Measures’” (p.20). • “WIA should explicitly provide for and support the development and use of performance adjustment models or other less complex but effective approaches to ensure that services to harder-to-serve groups are encouraged rather than discouraged” (p.20). • “WIA should also provide for more systematic capacity building across the system to foster best practices and professional development in performance management and related areas” (p.20). • “WIA should continue to support evaluations using random assignment to treatment status in conjunction with research on less expensive, less intrusive quasi- or non-experimental impact estimation” (p.21). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)