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Workforce strategies to improve employment outcomes

Workforce strategies can equip adults with in-demand skills, applied work experience, and credentials to position them for jobs that offer a living wage and good benefits.

A stable job with good pay and benefits is the ultimate marker of upward economic mobility. Children of parents with high-quality jobs are more likely to grow up in safe, stable households, leading to better academic and social outcomes throughout their lives.

How does employment affect economic mobility?

Steady, high-quality employment reduces the likelihood of material hardship and improves outcomes for children. 1

Lack of income stemming from unstable employment can make it more difficult for parents to afford food, utilities, health care, and developmental opportunities for their children.

Employment that pays a living wage, provides benefits, and provides employees with consistent, predictable scheduling helps produce economic stability for individuals and families. 2 3

At least one-third of households with a working adult experience material hardships, like being unable to afford enough to eat, stable housing, or medical care.

Low-wage jobs with unpredictable schedules negatively impact adult mental health and family well-being. 4

The economic insecurity, parental stress, and disrupted family routines that result from low-quality employment decrease child well-being.

Categories of successful interventions

  • Job placement services: Programs that help unemployed individuals find jobs suited for their skillset
  • Sector-based skills training: Programs that provide individuals with training for jobs in specific, in-demand industries
  • Transitional jobs: Paid, temporary employment designed for individuals who have disconnected from school or work. Often include restorative justice programs, counseling, wraparound services, skill building, and GED services

Evidence-based interventions

Intervention Type Category Evidence Level ARP Eligibility
Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Strategy
  • Job placement services
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Adult reentry programs Strategy
  • Re-entry programs
Strong (second-highest tier) Yes
Adult vocational training Strategy
  • Job placement services
  • Sector-based skills training
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Career Academies Program
  • Career and technical education
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Center for Employment Opportunities Program
  • Re-entry programs
  • Transitional jobs
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Child care subsidies Policy
  • High-quality childcare
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Flexible scheduling policies Policy
  • Job quality
Proven (highest tier) No
Goodwill Good Transitions Program Program
  • Transitional jobs
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Goodwill Industries Program
  • Transitional jobs
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) Program
  • Sector-based skills training
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Individual placement and support programs Program
  • Job placement services
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Madison Strategies Group (operating the WorkAdvance model) Program
  • Sector-based skills training
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Nevada Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment Program
  • Job placement services
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Per Scholas Program
  • Sector-based skills training
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Project QUEST Program
  • Sector-based skills training
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Restorative justice programs
  • Transitional jobs
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Registered apprenticeships Strategy
  • Internships and apprenticeships
Strong (second-highest tier) Yes
Riverside Post-Assistance Self Sufficiency Program Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Roca Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Restorative justice programs
  • Transitional jobs
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier) No
Transitional Jobs Strategy
  • Transitional jobs
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Urban Alliance Program
  • Internships and apprenticeships
  • Work readiness training
Strong (second-highest tier) Yes
Wisconsin Regional Training Program Program
  • Job placement services
  • Sector-based skills training
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Year Up Program
  • Internships and apprenticeships
  • Sector-based skills training
  • Work readiness training
Proven (highest tier) Yes
YouthBuild Program
  • Ged/hsed programs
  • Sector-based skills training
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier) Yes
Footnotes
  1. Sandstrom and Huerta, "The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis," Urban Institute 2013
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/32706/412899-The-Negative-Effects-of-Instability-on-Child-Development-A-Research-Synthesis.PDF
  2. Schneider and Harknett, It's About Time: How Work Schedule Instability Matters for Workers, Families, and Racial Inequality, The Shift Project, 2019
    https://shift.hks.harvard.edu/its-about-time-how-work-schedule-instability-matters-for-workers-families-and-racial-inequality/
  3. Sawhill and Karpilow, Raising the Minimum Wage and Redesigning the EITC, Brookings 2014
    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/30-Raising-Minimum-Wage-Redesigning-EITC-sawhill.pdf
  4. Schneider, Harknett, and Collins Consequences of Routine Work Schedule Instability for Worker Health and Wellbeing, The Shift Project, 2019
    https://shift.hks.harvard.edu/consequences-of-routine-work-schedule-instability-for-worker-health-and-wellbeing/