Findings from the Workforce Training Academy Connect Implementation and Early Impact Report

June 13, 2019
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), 2007-2018 | Learn more about this project
Workforce Training Academy (WTA) Connect Cover
Download report (pdf)
  • File Size 843kb
  • Pages 5
  • Published 2019


This brief summarizes the implementation and early impacts of the Workforce Training Academy Connect (WTA Connect) program, operated by Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Des Moines, Iowa. WTA Connect aimed to help low-income, low-skilled 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. Using a rigorous research design, the study found that WTA Connect resulted in a modest increase in attainment of credentials by participants within the 18-month follow-up period, but no other educational or career impacts. Future reports will examine whether this credential effect translates into gains in employment and earnings.

Primary Research Questions

  1. 1 Was the intervention implemented as designed?
  2. 2 How did services received differ between study participants who could access the WTA Connect program versus those who could not?
  3. 3 What were the effects of access to WTA Connect on short-term educational outcomes: credentials attained and hours of occupational training received?


WTA Connect aimed to provide a pathway for low-skilled students to enroll in occupational certificate courses when their low levels of basic skills made them otherwise ineligible. It provided basic skills remediation (including enrollment in high school equivalency classes if needed), development of self-efficacy and goal-setting skills, and proactive advising. After completing the basic skills requirements, WTA Connect participants could enroll in occupational certificate courses in fields such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and administrative support. The entire package of program components was provided free to participants.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Significantly more WTA Connect treatment group members participated in education and training compared to control group members.
  • Among those who received education and training, the treatment group was significantly more likely than the control group to receive career counseling, tutoring, help arranging supports for school or work, and job search assistance.
  • The treatment group earned significantly more credentials (the confirmatory outcome measured in this report) than control group members.


The WTA Connect evaluation included 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. Prior to estimating WTA Connect’s impacts, the research team published an analysis plan specifying key hypotheses and outcome measures. Between April 2012 and December 2014, the evaluation randomly assigned nearly 1,000 program applicants to either the treatment or the control group. Data sources were a follow-up survey conducted approximately 18 months after random assignment, administrative records from DMACC, and site visits to document program implementation and operations.

Last Reviewed: June 12, 2019