Local Workforce Training
Quasi-Experimental Impact Evaluation of the PowerCorpsPHL Program
Client: EducationWorks, 2020 – 2023
Study objective: Examine the performance and impacts of the PowerCorpsPHL program by conducting an outcomes assessment study to examine program participation and program-related outcomes, and a quasi-experimental impact study to examine the effects of the program on participants’ labor market, educational, and criminal involvement outcomes.
Policy context: PowerCorpsPHL uses a work-based, classroom, and socio-emotional learning model to address the underutilized talents of Philadelphia’s disconnected youth adults (ages 18 – 28). The program engages this youth in AmeriCorps service and prepares them for career-track and employment and post-secondary education success in the green jobs sector.
Research design: The study includes an outcomes assessment study which relies on participant-level data to assess program success in recruiting its target population and providing services to participants, and examine whether program participation is associated with improved labor market outcomes. The study also uses Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania data to assess if program participation is associated with reduced engagement in criminal activities. The study also includes a quasi-experimental impact evaluation, which matches program participants with observationally similar individuals who lived in the same areas as did program participants and sought state employment and training services during the same period. Using Pennsylvania UI wage records, the study examined if program participants had improved employment and earnings outcomes following program entry compared with similar individuals who did not participate in the program.
Policy Impact: Preliminary findings from the outcomes study show that the program was effective in serving its target population, achieving high retention rates, and helping participants obtain industry credentials. Program participation is also associated with reduced future involvement with the criminal justice system. Preliminary quasi-experimental impact study results indicate that the program increased the likelihood that participants would engage in paid employment and increased job retention; there were also short-term impacts on earnings. Results from this study will inform decisions about providing additional program funding to expand program capacity.
Evaluation of the Bright Solar Futures Program
Client: Philadelphia Energy Authority, 2019 – 2022
Study objective: Examine the key strategies and implementation practices of the Bright Solar Futures Program and track program performance.
Policy context: In 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy funded innovative research project, including Bright Solar Futures, to support the development of a growing solar workforce. The Bright Solar Futures program provides training to young Philadelphians to help them obtain the skills needed to fill the worker shortage in the solar industry.
Research design. Conduct an implementation and outcomes assessment study to examine program strategies to achieve its objectives and to track program performance. The study relies on collecting and analyzing qualitative data through document reviews and stakeholder interviews, as well as analysis of quantitative data collected via surveys and individual educational records.
Policy impact. Findings show that the program was successful in engaging its target population in training curricula that specifically target the green energy sector. Best program practices include the use of experienced, well-trained instructors and educators, engagement of students with subject matter experts, comprehensive case management to monitor student progress and improve retention, and leveraging resources from employers and other community-based organizations. Results from this study are used to inform decisions about future implementation practices and to aid efforts to replicate the program in other contexts. The study also provided recommendations for an impact evaluation that would provide rigorous evidence on the program’s success.