Workforce development strategies are a critical component of a community’s economic vitality. To promote learning and the sharing of best practices, the Federal Reserve System created a series of free podcasts on emerging trends in workforce development. In the November 2012 podcast, Jen Giovannitti of the Richmond Fed interviewed Elizabeth Weigensberg, senior researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
Weigensberg, who serves as the coordinator of Chapin Hall’s Chicagoland Workforce Information Collaborative, assessed program performance through working with partner agencies to analyze program administrative data. Her report, “Inside the Black Box: What Makes Workforce Development Programs Successful,” looked at a diverse set of programs in and around Chicago that were community-based programs serving low-income adults. The study found that there were some key components of program success that included the thorough intake assessment of participants, a broad range of services that extended beyond workforce training, strong organizational leadership, and flexibility to meet the changing needs of both the individuals and the operating environment.
In addition, the most successful programs in her study had strong external relationships with employers, workforce training programs and community service providers. This external focus allowed them to effectively engage in policy and advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels.
While more work needs to be done to maximize workforce development strategies, the Chicagoland programs analyzed by Weigensberg offer some lessons for where best approaches can be taken to deliver the most successful workforce development outcomes.
The transcript of the podcast and the audio MP3 file are available here.
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