Employment Creation Potential, Labor Skills Requirements, and Skill Gaps for Young People: A Methodological Framework

Employment Creation Potential, Labor Skills Requirements, and Skill Gaps for Young People: A Methodological Framework. Brookings Institution. Haroon Bhorat et al. March 4, 2020

This paper presents a methodological framework for assessing the extent to which youth unemployment can be addressed through employment creation in industries without smokestacks in individual countries, as well as the skill gaps in the youth population that need to be addressed for this potential to be reached. There are two components to the method: (i) estimating skill demand, and (ii) identifying skill gaps in the target youth population. On the labor demand side, the framework seeks to identify the skills required for a sector to reach its employment potential. On the supply side, the methodology ultimately aims to answer the question: Do the skills to meet the demand in the sector exist in the population; and if not, where are the gaps? [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 51 pages].

Expanding and Improving Work-Based Learning in Community Colleges: Better Data and Measurement to Realize Goals for Students and Employers

Expanding and Improving Work-Based Learning in Community Colleges: Better Data and Measurement to Realize Goals for Students and Employers. Urban Institute. Shayne Spaulding, Ian Hecker, Emily Bramhall. March 3, 2020.

Work-based learning (WBL) as an important strategy for helping students prepare for and access good jobs. Across the country and at all levels of government, efforts are underway to expand and diversify WBL. Because they enroll diverse student bodies and providing career-focused education and training, community colleges are poised to play a role in these efforts. This brief explores the current state of knowledge about WBL in community college contexts and how it is measured. We find that 1) WBL models and definitions vary across community colleges; 2) the federal government, states and community colleges need to align systems of measurement to assess the effectiveness of WBL expansion efforts; and 3) an institutional commitment to WBL is vital to successful implementation and measurement. We recommend increased funding and common definitions of WBL at both state and federal levels and the integration of WBL elements into existing data platforms. We further recommend that community colleges incorporate WBL elements into their own data systems, and commit institutionally to WBL. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 46 pages].

A New Approach to Examining Disability: How the WD-FAB Could Improve SSA’s Processes and Help People with Disabilities Stay Employed

A New Approach to Examining Disability: How the WD-FAB Could Improve SSA’s Processes and Help People with Disabilities Stay Employed. Urban Institute. Diane Brandt, Jack Smalligan. December 17, 2019

The National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with Boston University, developed a new tool for assessing individual functional ability with funding from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The tool, called the Work Disability–Functional Assessment Battery (WD-FAB), uses item response theory and computer adaptive testing to quickly interview people and systematically map physical and mental health functioning.
In this paper, we provide background on the WD-FAB and explore two ways it could improve the delivery of services to people with disabilities. First, the instrument could provide SSA with a more complete understanding of an applicant’s self-reported functional abilities and limitations. SSA could use those insights to improve the disability determination process for those applying for disability benefits. Second, the instrument could help federal, state, and local programs identify interventions for people who need return-to-work services.
The WD-FAB offers an opportunity to leverage advances in approaches to integrate functional information into the assessment of work disability using comprehensive, efficient technologies to capture self-reported functioning. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages].

Incorporating Two-Generation Approaches in Community Change

Incorporating Two-Generation Approaches in Community Change. Urban Institute. Susan J. Popkin et al. December 16, 2019.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched Family-Centered Community Change (FCCC) in 2012 to support three local partnerships seeking to help parents and children in high-poverty neighborhoods succeed together. These partnerships, located in Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Ohio; and San Antonio, Texas, are each developing a more integrated set of services, including housing assistance, high-quality education, and job training.
Since 2013, the Urban Institute has been evaluating each initiative’s design, implementation, and outcomes for families. The theory behind the demonstration is that “two-generation approaches,” or coordinating high-quality programs and services for children and parents, can help break intergenerational poverty and move families with low incomes toward greater economic independence. This paper is one of a series of reports based on what we have learned from five years of observations from our research.
The three FCCC initiatives provide services including early childhood education and child care, partnerships with local elementary schools, after-school care, employment and training for adults, financial education, and coaching to help parents set goals and stay on target. All three initiatives operate within communities where families move frequently and have widely varying needs and within neighborhoods with long histories of racial segregation and systemic racism, changing job markets, demographic changes, and gentrification. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 51 pages].

Skilling Up: The Scope of Modern Apprenticeship

Skilling Up: The Scope of Modern Apprenticeship. Urban Institute. Ervin Dimeny et al. November 19, 2019

The apprenticeship movement is reshaping skills, policies, and programs in the United States at a critical moment in our country’s history. This reader offers a chorus of voices emanating from different countries and populations, echoing commitment to bright, sustainable workforce futures through a well-crafted approach to this talent development model. The collected chapters and vignettes address questions for businesses of all sizes, community-based organizations, and schools looking for a way to build strong pipelines of skilled labor, stimulate economies in struggling regions, provide options for adults seeking career changes, and stimulate engagement for students filled with curiosity about the promise of work-based learning. We endeavored to shatter myths, remove barriers, and erase fears of attempting apprenticeship, particularly for small and medium-size businesses and parents who are naturally concerned about meaningful and gainful career choices for their children. This reader intends to show the possibilities modern apprenticeship affords contemporary societies and to inspire many to reframe the boundaries of traditional thinking. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 301 pages].

Training for Jobs of the Future: Improving Access, Certifying Skills, and Expanding Apprenticeship

Training for Jobs of the Future: Improving Access, Certifying Skills, and Expanding Apprenticeship. Urban Institute. Robert I. Lerman, Pamela J. Loprest, Daniel Kuehn. October 3, 2019

Long run labor market trends in the American economy pose significant challenges. Growth in real money wages has been slow, with the most rapid gains taking place among workers at the top of the earnings distribution. Labor force participation and employment rates have been falling. Reduced labor force participation and obsolescence of workers’ skills weigh down GDP growth, with predictable negative repercussions for living standards and federal revenue. These trends suggest a need for a major revamping of policies and programs that prepare people for careers and retrain people who must change careers. The authors focus on three major policy initiatives to maximize worker training to bolster productivity and wages: Improve access to in-demand training; strengthen connections between career and technical education and training and employer needs; and build a robust apprenticeship system that emphasizes learning by doing in a context that involves apprentice contributions to production, and culminates in a respected occupational credential. This new system goes beyond the “academic-only” approach commonly pursued in the US and should match individual interests, aptitudes, and skills to in-demand jobs and make new training investments that are cost effective and valued by employers. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 41 pages].

Registered Apprenticeship: Federal Role and Recent Federal Efforts

Registered Apprenticeship: Federal Role and Recent Federal Efforts. Congressional Research Service. Benjamin Collins. Updated September 25, 2019

Apprenticeship is a workforce development strategy that trains a worker for a specific occupation using a structured combination of paid on-the-job training and related instruction. Increased costs for higher education and possible mismatches between worker skills and employer needs have led to interest in alternative workforce development strategies such as apprenticeship. The primary federal role in supporting apprenticeships is the administration of the registered apprenticeship system. In this system, the federal Department of Labor (DOL) or a DOLrecognized state apprenticeship agency (SAA) is responsible for evaluating apprenticeship programs to determine if they are in compliance with federal regulations related to program design, worker protections, and other criteria. Programs that are in compliance are “registered.” While registration does not trigger any specific federal financial incentives, registered programs may receive preferential consideration in various federal systems and apprentices who complete a registered program receive a nationally-recognized credential.

[PDF format, 18 pages].

Improving the Social Security Disability Determination Process

Improving the Social Security Disability Determination Process. Urban Institute. Jack Smalligan, Chantel Boyens. July 26, 2019

The Social Security Administration each year processes millions of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. Currently, 10 states lack a second level review process, known as reconsideration, for disability claims that are initially denied and appealed. SSA has begun to reestablish the reconsideration stage in these states. This move has raised concerns and broader questions about SSA’s overall disability determination process.

In this paper the authors examine SSA’s disability determination process and past efforts to improve SSA’s process, and challenges and lessons for future reform. They identify a path forward that could improve the quality and timeliness of decisions by enhancing the reconsideration process to make it more robust, allowing better decisions to be made earlier, while keeping long-term program costs neutral. To support this approach, they put forward three options Congress could consider to provide sustained funding and commitment to the agreed-upon vision for reform. These options would allow SSA to test strategies and gather evidence to support decision making. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 38 pages].

Helping Public Housing Residents Find Jobs and Build Careers

Helping Public Housing Residents Find Jobs and Build Careers: Evaluation Findings from New York City’s Jobs-Plus Expansion. Urban Institute. Josh Leopold et al. September 6, 2019

Since 2009, New York City has implemented the Jobs-Plus program to increase employment and earnings public housing residents. The program is modeled after a successful federal demonstration from the 1990s that combines employment services, financial incentives, and community supports to promote work. The Urban Institute evaluation of the program combined interviews and focus groups with staff and participants with analysis of data on Jobs-Plus participation, public housing residency, and quarterly earnings before and after implementation. We concluded that the program provided personal, culturally competent employment services and cultivate a network of employers interested in hiring Jobs-Plus participants. Among participants, Jobs-Plus increased employment by 12 percentage points and quarterly earnings by $497. Our evaluation found mixed evidence that the program slightly improved employment rates for residents of the targeted developments and found no evidence that it improved earnings. We attribute this lack of impact primarily to two factors. First, the Jobs-Plus providers might not have assisted a high enough proportion of residents to change overall trends within the developments. Second, our evaluation could not capture the program’s impact on the many participants who lived in the targeted developments but were not officially listed on the lease and were thus not included in our data. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 97 pages].

Registered Apprenticeship in Science and Engineering

Registered Apprenticeship in Science and Engineering. Urban Institute. Daniel Kuehn, Ian Hecker, Alphonse Simon. June 12, 2019

Workers with training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are in high demand in the United States and are essential to innovation and economic growth. Apprenticeship is a proven strategy for training workers, but it is underutilized in STEM occupations. This report explores employers’ experiences with STEM apprenticeship. STEM apprentices are concentrated in technician occupations that do not require a bachelor’s degree. They are better paid and have higher training completion rates than non-STEM apprentices. Nevertheless, employers often struggle with adapting the traditional apprenticeship model to information technology and engineering technology jobs that have do not have a history of using apprenticeship. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 47 pages].