Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County Health Careers for All Program: Implementation and Early Impact Report

January 12, 2018
Topics:
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Projects:
Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), 2007-2018 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County Health Careers for All Program: Implementation and Early Impact Report
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  • File Size 2mb
  • Pages 86
  • Published 2018

Introduction

This report documents the implementation and early impacts of the Health Careers for All program, operated by the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC). Health Careers for All aimed to help low-income adults access and complete occupational training that can lead to increased employment and higher earnings. It is one of nine career pathways programs being evaluated under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The program had four key elements: (1) navigation and case management services; (2) tuition-free access to occupational training in healthcare fields, funded through “cohorts” (course packages open exclusively to participants and fully funded by the program) based at community and technical colleges or through Individual Training Accounts; (3) employment services; and (4) financial assistance during and immediately following training to help address barriers to program completion or employment. Health Careers for All was funded by the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program from 2010 to 2015. HPOG, administered by ACF, was created to provide education and training to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals for occupations in the healthcare field that pay well and are expected to either experience labor shortages or be in high demand.

Using a rigorous research design, the study found that Health Careers for All increased the percentage of participants enrolling in healthcare-related training over an 18-month follow-up period. However, there was no impact overall on receipt of a credential or total hours of occupational training. Future reports will examine whether the program resulted in gains in employment and earnings.

Research Questions

  1. 1 Was the intervention implemented as designed?
  2. 2 How did services received differ between study participants who could access the Health Careers for All program versus those who could not?
  3. 3 What was the effect of access to Health Careers for All on short-term educational outcomes, specifically credentials earned and hours of occupational training received?

Purpose

The federal government projects that over the next decade, the fastest-growing occupations are in healthcare. This demand creates opportunities for entry-level employment and advancement to higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. Almost all jobs in healthcare require some level of postsecondary education or training. But many low-income, low-skilled adults face considerable barriers to completing even short-term training for entry-level jobs. Many are “nontraditional” students—that is, older, often parents, lacking adequate basic academic skills, and with few economic resources.

Career pathways programs are designed to address these issues by providing well-articulated training and employment steps targeted to locally in-demand jobs, combined with a range of supports. Policymakers and practitioners have shown great interest in the career pathways approach; but to date, limited rigorous research is available on its effects on participants’ educational and economic outcomes. To assess the effectiveness of a career pathways program such as Health Careers for All, the PACE evaluation uses an experimental design, randomly assigning participants to a “treatment” group who can access the program and a “control” group who cannot, then comparing their outcomes.

Key Findings and Highlights

Key findings include:

  • Most Health Careers for All treatment group members participated in some type of education or training program.
  • Program participants’ first enrollment in healthcare training most commonly was at a private, non-degree granting school.
  • The program achieved impacts on enrollment in training in a healthcare field, but there was no impact on receipt of a credential or total hours of occupational training.
  • Health Careers for All did increase employment in a healthcare occupation, but so far there were no other impacts on employment.

Methods

The Health Careers for All evaluation includes an implementation study that examines the design and operation of the program and enrolled students’ participation patterns, and an impact study that uses an experimental design to measure differences in educational and employment outcomes.

From September 2012 to December 2014, more than 650 program applicants were randomly assigned to either the treatment or the control group. Data were collected from a follow-up survey conducted approximately 18 months after random assignment. The evaluation also included site visits to document program implementation and operations.

Prior to estimating Health Careers for All impacts, the research team published an analysis plan specifying key hypotheses and outcome measures, and registered the outcomes. An essential principle in the analysis plan was to organize and discipline the number of statistical tests conducted so as to avoid the problem of “multiple comparisons,” whereby a potentially large number of the tests could reach conventional levels of statistical significance by chance, even if there were no effect on any outcome.

Citation

Glosser, A., Judkins, D., and C. Morrison. (2017). Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County Health Careers for All Program: Implementation and Early Impact Report, OPRE Report #2017-106, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last Reviewed: September 17, 2018