Why Do Sectoral Employment Programs Work? Lessons from WorkAdvance

Produced by: 
National Bureau of Economic Research
Available from: 
December 2020
Paper author(s): 
Lawrence F. Katz
Jonathan Roth
Richard Hendra
Kelsey Schaberg

This paper examines the evidence from randomized evaluations of sector-focused training programs that target low-wage workers and combine upfront screening, occupational and soft skills training, and wraparound services. The programs generate substantial and persistent earnings gains (11 to 40 percent) following training completion. Theoretical mechanisms for program impacts are explored for the WorkAdvance demonstration. Earnings gains are generated by getting participants into higher-wage jobs in higher-earning industries and occupations not just by raising employment. Training in transferable and certifiable skills (likely under-provided from poaching concerns) and reductions of employment barriers to high-wage sectors for non-traditional workers appear to play key roles.


Research section: 
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