Thursday, August 2, 2012

Identifying better measures for tracking the progress of young adults in workforce development programs

JobsFirstNYC is pleased to share with the field the results of a timely new study, entitled, Understanding Interim Progress Milestones in Young Adult-Serving Workforce Development Programs, which affirms the challenges that young adult-serving organizations face operating in a performance-based culture.

The paper outlines short-term progress measures that can be used by young adult-serving organizations to ensure that their participants are on track to meet employment and educational goals.  The research conducted for this study was made possible by funding from JobsFirstNYC, including a project-specific grant from the William T. Grant Foundation, and the NYC Workforce Funders.

The study was part of the New York City Benchmarking Project, written by Marty Miles and Stacy Woodruff-Bolt of P/PV, who convened the Young Adult Milestones Task Force from Fall 2010 through Spring 2011 in order to answer the following question:

What are meaningful short-term progress measures that can help young adult workforce programs know if participants are on track to accomplish employment or educational outcomes?

Through a series of task force meetings, individual data analysis projects and conference calls to share lessons learned, the following themes emerged:
  • Some specific progress measures were predictive of eventual success;
  • Lower-skilled young adults may require more than one year to earn a GED; and
  • Participating organizations reported that they benefited from the opportunity for peer learning and focused data analysis.
The report concludes with the recommendation that workforce funders, CBOs and the NYC workforce field at large will benefit from broadening  their scope of measurable outcomes to include more tangible interim milestones. While many funders currently focus on outcomes of placement and retention in employment, attainment of degree or certificate, and literacy or numeracy gains of at least one educational level, an additional set of measures--tailored to the specific circumstances of each organization but modeled on best-practices in young adult-serving workforce programs--should be considered as well.  This will allow organizations to refine their data collection practices to suit the individual needs of their programs and more importantly, engage in ongoing performance improvement at the organizational level.  

The full content of the report can be downloaded from our website by clicking here

If you have questions about the report, please contact JFNYC Deputy Executive Director Evelyn Fernandez-Ketcham, at

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