urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Workforce Development

ApprenticeshipWorkforce development policy includes a range of programs that fund or provide for job training, skills development, and employment services. To understand best practices in the field, Urban Institute researchers analyze workforce and industry trends and evaluate workforce development policies and programs, such as the Workforce Investment Act, One-Stop Career Centers, apprenticeships, youth employment programs, and older worker programs. Evidence shows that workforce development works but is most effective when it’s long-term, intensive, and directly related to specific jobs.

While the private sector funds most job training, disadvantaged youth and adults may be able to access only public programs. Workforce development has raised earnings for low-wage workers, but federal spending through the Workforce Investment Act has dropped by more than 70 percent since 1979.

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Literature Review: Healthcare Occupational Training and Support Programs under the ACA—Background and Implications for Evaluating HPOG (Research Report)
Randall R. Bovbjerg, Erin McDonald

This report reviews the literature on the policy context of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program, and the challenges and opportunities related to developing healthcare occupational training and support programs. It discusses the structure of the healthcare industry and trends in healthcare employment, implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for entry-level employment in healthcare, and resulting challenges and opportunities for training programs. The report was developed as part of the HPOG Implementation, Systems and Outcome Project, which is being led by Abt Associates in partnership with the Urban Institute.

Posted to Web: June 12, 2014Publication Date: March 01, 2014

Expanding Apprenticeship Training In Canada: Perspectives From International Experience (Research Report)
Robert I. Lerman

Concern about a rising "skills gap" alongside high unemployment is emerging as a key competitiveness issue in North America. Among Canadian companies, 59 per cent of department executives expressed concern about the availability of needed skills over the next two years. This report examines the rationale for expanding apprenticeship training in Canada and the implications for policy and practice. It considers the benefits of a robust apprenticeship system, as well as potential concerns, describes the scale and composition of the current Canadian apprenticeship system, and concludes with recommendations for increasing apprenticeships in Canada.

Posted to Web: May 08, 2014Publication Date: May 08, 2014

Integrating Community Health Workers into a Reformed Health Care System (Research Report)
Randall R. Bovbjerg, Lauren Eyster, Barbara A. Ormond, Theresa Anderson, Elizabeth Richardson

Community health workers (CHWs) can help to achieve the goals of the Affordable Care Act—better health, better care, and lower costs. CHWs are typically laypeople whose close connections with a community enable them to win trust and improve health and health services for those they serve. However, challenges with financing structures, workforce training, and service organization can hinder the expansion of the CHW workforce. This paper highlights the roles played by CHWs, assesses evidence of their achievements, describes the increasing opportunities for them under health care reform, and considers productive next steps for growing the CHW workforce.

Posted to Web: March 26, 2014Publication Date: March 26, 2014

Opportunities for Community Health Workers in the Era of Health Reform (Research Report)
Randall R. Bovbjerg, Lauren Eyster, Barbara A. Ormond, Theresa Anderson, Elizabeth Richardson

Health reform has created a watershed moment for community health workers (CHWs). Both coverage expansions and a new focus on creating value in health care offer new opportunities for CHWs. This paper assesses existing impediments to and enablers of the expansion of CHW employment. It catalogues how the ACA and other health reform efforts affect prospects for sustainable employment for CHWs. It also looks at workforce issues, insurance enrollment needs, affordability and accessibility of services, and changes in approaches to public health and prevention. The paper concludes by highlighting particular promising opportunities for CHWs in both public and private sectors.

Posted to Web: March 26, 2014Publication Date: March 26, 2014

The Evolution, Expansion, and Effectiveness of Community Health Workers (Research Report)
Randall R. Bovbjerg, Lauren Eyster, Barbara A. Ormond, Theresa Anderson, Elizabeth Richardson

In the past decade, the community health worker (CHW) profession in the United States has increased its visibility, but its potential contributions remain underappreciated and more permanent financing is elusive. This paper describes the current state of knowledge about how and where CHWs can contribute effectively, where barriers inhibit efficient deployment of CHWs, and what business models could support change. Observations come from literature reviews, key stakeholder interviews, case studies of CHW initiatives, and a convening of practitioners, employers, advocates, policymakers, and other experts.

Posted to Web: March 26, 2014Publication Date: March 26, 2014

Promising Approaches to Integrating Community Health Workers into Health Systems: Four Case Studies (Research Report)
Lauren Eyster, Randall R. Bovbjerg

The productive roles that community health workers (CHWs) can play in health care are drawing increasing interest among US policymakers, providers, insurers, and other stakeholders. While there is a growing interest, little has been documented about the scope of practice, supervision, and human resources standards implemented by states and by employers of CHWs, or how CHWs are financed. Such dimensions of implementing CHW models are important to promoting interventions that integrate CHWs. This volume offers four case studies – in Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Ohio – of interventions that illustrate the challenges and opportunities for integrating CHWs into health systems.

Posted to Web: March 26, 2014Publication Date: December 15, 2013

A Descriptive Study of Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Programs (Research Report)
Heather Hahn, Olivia Healy, Walter Hillabrant, Chris Narducci

This study provides an in-depth, systematic look at program implementation, operations, outputs, and outcomes in four diverse Tribal TANF programs, and identifies promising practices and areas for further study. Overall, the study found that tribes use the flexibility of Tribal TANF to create diverse programs that reflect their unique circumstances, opportunities, and cultures. Elements of tribal culture were evident in the way program staff and clients interacted and in the types of activities in which clients were engaged. The Tribal TANF programs examined in the study generally focus on the broad goal of self-sufficiency, beyond the narrower goal of employment.

Posted to Web: January 14, 2014Publication Date: December 06, 2013

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