Evaluation of the STEM Initiative

Author(s): Kogan, Deborah; Nicholson, Brandon; Leufgen, Jill; Midling, Michael; Thakrar, Miloney

Organizational Author(s): Social Policy Research Associates

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Resource Availability: Publicly available

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Summary

Describes the implementation experiences of STEM grantees and assesses individual participants’ outcomes.

Description

“As noted by a number of observers, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have become increasingly central to U.S. economic competitiveness and growth” (p.ES-1). In order to focus on strengthening the job training system by training workers to meet the industry needs in STEM occupations, “the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced the ‘Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Opportunities in the Workforce System Initiative,’ or STEM Initiative, in 2008 as part of a broader STEM action agenda” (p.ES-1). “The major goals of the STEM Initiative were to attract and prepare disadvantaged youth and dislocated workers for STEM-related careers while simultaneously enhancing regional employer competitiveness” (p.ES-2). The evaluation drew on existing data and conducted primary data collection to study key issues regarding the implementation of programs and services, partnerships, and outputs. “A qualitative study component was informed by three rounds of site visits to each STEM project conducted at various stages of project planning and operation as well as periodic telephone conversations with project managers. The quantitative component focused on data collected by the individual grantees on the characteristics of project participants, the services provided, and the outcomes achieved by individual participants” (p.ES-3). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The evaluation presented several key findings:

• “Although the STEM grantees were diligent about implementing the required STEM features, all five projects experienced difficulty implementing their initial mentoring designs, and four projects questioned the usefulness of career blueprints, particularly in serving dislocated workers” (p.VI-2).

• “Four of the five projects attempted to serve both dislocated workers and disadvantaged youth. Because each group required very different kinds of services, managers at two projects reported that their efforts were stretched thin trying to serve both populations well. Especially after the economic downturn, providing services to in-school youth—to encourage them to seek career pathways in STEM fields over the long-term—seemed, in many cases, to be a better investment than trying to work with adults who wanted rapid employment in STEM occupations in a very difficult job market.” (p.VI-3-VI-4).

• “As a result of their experiences, grantees learned that it was important to involve top-level staff, build partnerships with educational institutions, and develop effective strategies to involve representatives from the business community in the targeted sectors” (p.VI-4).

• “Based on the experience of the STEM grantees, local community colleges are likely to be essential partners in future efforts to build and sustain STEM-related training” (p.VI-5).
(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Publication Date: 2012
Posted: 3/17/2015 2:58 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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