Practical Tips and Tools to Strengthen Your ERA Program: A Technical Assistance Guide for the Employment Retention and Advancement Project

Published: November 15, 2004
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Employment Retention and Advancement Project (ERA), 1998-2011 | Learn more about this project

ERA sites, like many programs across the country, face major challenges designing and implementing employment retention and advancement programs. Staff are expected to perform a new set of tasks and go beyond “business as usual” to assist their clientele in remaining connected to the labor market and advancing beyond low-paid entry-level jobs. Staff delivering post-employment services are required to possess different skills and different knowledge than they used to in pre-employment programs. Yet little is known about the kinds of activities that might be effective. The only rigorous research in this area to date indicates that case management alone is probably not enough.

MDRC and The Lewin Group have worked with many of you for the past three years to help develop and strengthen your ERA programs. Through the use of consultants and operations staff, we’ve provided advice, training, and tools in a variety of areas. As your programs have evolved, our training has focused more on specific activities that staff might undertake with clients to help them improve their ability to keep their job and advance.

Advancement in the ERA project is loosely defined as any set of activities that contribute to the pursuit of an improved employment situation for the client. Of course a “better” job is defined differently by each client with the help of program staff. This intentionally loose definition allows staff to be flexible, creative and customize the program services to each client. Yet, it also means that staff are often left to figure out what specific activities might work best to help a client retain her/his job and advance to the next.