Center director Dr. Chris King and research associate Tara Smith met with members of the Travis County Commissioner's Court to present research findings from evaluations of two sets of local workforce investments, county-funded workforce development demonstration projects and county funded workforce services providers. Travis County is a national leader in workforce investments, pursuing both short-term and longer-term workforce development programs for the county's low-income and disadvantaged residents. Outcomes evaluation and impact analysis for these programs are presented in the presentation. Short-term workforce investment projects focused on adult basic education and occupational skills development. Six local organizations provided the services. Short-term training investments typically show the largest outcomes in the immediate post-service period but do not typically change the participants' earnings trajectories over time.
Longer-term workforce training can extend over several years and generally includes occupational training for jobs in high-skill, high-wage sectors (primarily nursing and allied health professions), postsecondary education, and regular peer support sessions. Travis county organization Capital IDEA provided these services. Researchers found longer-term training significantly improves participants' employment and earnings over time. Furthermore, an analysis of the return-on-investment of Capital IDEA's services shows total returns were estimated at 165% over ten years and 501% over twenty years, with returns to taxpayers, in the form of reduced welfare payments and food stamps payments and increased tax receipts, at $1.65 for each dollar invested over the first 10 years, and $5.01 over twenty years.
The Ray Marshall Center has been working with Travis County since 2006 to evaluate its workforce investment programs. Additional information about the projects as well as links to past reports are accessible here.