An Evaluation of Workforce Development Services in Travis County
Principal Investigator - Tara C. Smith
Sponsor - Travis County, Texas
Project Duration - January 2006 - December 2013
Funding Amount - $78,400
Travis County makes numerous investments in workforce development activities each year. In order to understand the impact of these investments, the County has asked the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas to conduct an evaluation of the workforce development services it funds.
The evaluation is organized into two areas of focus: (1) workforce demonstration projects, and (2) other workforce development services. These are described in detail below.
Evaluation of Workforce Demonstration Projects
The Rapid Employment Model (REM) demonstration project initiated by Travis County is a collaborative effort of the County and Workforce Solutions – Capital Area Workforce Board and area workforce service providers to decrease the amount of time an individual is out of work by connecting individuals with short-term (less than 6 weeks) training.
The Gainful Employment Model (GEM) demonstration project is also a collaborative effort of the County and Workforce Solutions – Capital Area Workforce Board. GEM provides access to longer-term (up to 9 months) workforce training.
The evaluation of these workforce demonstration projects includes an outcomes evaluation and exploratory impacts analysis based on a quasi-experimental research design.
The ongoing outcomes evaluation documents the results of the demonstration projects, including the number of clients served; number completing training; number placed in employment; wages earned; and other outputs/outcomes that can be determined largely through linked administrative data. Data for this portion of the evaluation comes from the administrative databases maintained by each provider; The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST); Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records; and other sources, such as TANF and Food Stamp Employment and Training program records.
We use a quasi-experimental design to match REM and GEM participants with similar individuals receiving other workforce services available in the region. Differences in outcomes for participants and comparison group members are analyzed to determine the impact of each demonstration project.
Key evaluation questions include:
- How effective is the demonstration project, as measured by reduced time unemployed, reduced unemployment insurance payments, employment retention and increased earnings?
- How do key participant outcomes compare to those for similar, nonparticipating individuals?
- Which skills training programs are most effective for graduates and why?
- What changes can be made to services/treatments to improve outcomes for participants?
Evaluation of Local Workforce Development Services
The evaluation also examines the impact of the County’s investments in local workforce development services, including: services to youth, ex-offenders, and other disadvantaged County residents. The evaluation of these workforce development programs includes both outcomes and impacts analyses, similar to those described above. Programs participating in this portion of the evaluation include: Austin Academy, American Youthworks, Austin Area Urban League, Goodwill, Skillpoint Alliance’s Construction Gateway program, and Capital IDEA.
Evaluation of Emergency Assistance Services
As part of the extension agreement for 2013, RMC is contracted to begin evaluating emergency assistance services.