- Sectoral programs such as Year Up are strongly supported by evidence and have the potential for broad scaling.
- Scaling to serve thousands more workers will require novel adaptations, such as shortened pathways to jobs and workforce ecosystems built with mission-aligned organizations.
- Replicating and scaling sector-based training programs requires a strategic balance of philanthropy, employers, and the federal government.
- Stable, reliable, and flexible funding is vital for scaling sector-based training programs. Promoting fidelity, avoiding ill-conceived or overly prescriptive policies that undermine program intent, and allowing sufficient time for results are important guidelines for successful implementation.
The Workforce Futures Initiative is a research collaboration among the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, and the Project on Workforce at Harvard Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. The initiative aims to develop concise and actionable reviews of existing research for federal, state, and local policymakers. Since August 2021, the group has provided a forum for researchers and practitioners to discuss policy ideas, evaluate evidence, and identify priorities for new research on the future of work and the public workforce system.
As part of the Workforce Futures Initiative, the following reports analyze sectoral programs and ways to replicate and scale these programs by balancing funding from philanthropy, employers, and the federal government and by creating policies that promote fidelity and allow sufficient time for results to be analyzed.
In the first report, Scaling the Impact of Sector-Based Employment Strategies, Richard Hendra, Kelsey Schaberg, and Brent Orrell delve into the potential for scaling evidence-based and research-validated sector training programs such as those used by Year Up. They suggest these programs can enhance economic mobility and address inequality, but the key to effective scaling lies in successful replication, fidelity to the original models, and stable, flexible funding. Facilitating this hinges on documenting and codifying the elements of successful sector programs to maintain quality. However, for the participants to transition successfully from training to employment, these sector programs should be supplemented with comprehensive supports that address non-training needs, such as direct subsidies, childcare, transportation, and mental health resources. By incorporating these principles, such programs could substantially amplify their impact, thereby addressing the economic inequalities and improving employment outcomes more effectively.
Responding to Hendra, Schaberg, and Orrell, the second report—Scaling Year Up to Maximize Access and Impact by Garrett A. R. Yursza Warfield—discusses Year Up, a national workforce development nonprofit that has been key in empowering young adults by bridging the opportunity divide through a blend of training and internships. Recently, the organization expanded its model to include the Professional Training Corps, targeting community college students with valuable technical skills. To accommodate participants’ challenges such as family responsibilities and pandemic-related disruptions, Year Up adapted by creating flexible virtual program delivery. This expansion and evolution has underscored the importance of balancing growth with evidence-based practices, continuous evaluation, and enhanced employment outcomes for a wider population of workers.