Workforce Development Systems and Programs

The federal workforce development “system” is characterized by a vast array of programs and funding streams supporting workforce development programs at the state and local levels. These programs aim to assist individuals in seeking, preparing for, securing, and maintaining jobs, and to provide employers with skilled employees. The primary funding stream governing workforce programs is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), but workforce development programs can be found across multiple agencies and are authorized under multiple laws. A 2011 US Government Accountability Office study found that there were 47 funding streams overseen by nine federal agencies. States, localities, and local programs have much discretion in designing and implementing federal programs, adding to the complexity of the system. Furthermore, there are many stakeholders at the state and local levels that have important roles to play in the workforce system.

The Urban Institute is working to build a better understanding of federal, state, and local workforce systems and the workforce development programs that serve low-income individuals and communities. We study education and training programs offered by various providers, including employers, educational institutions, and other nonprofit and for-profit organizations. This work includes evaluating innovative programs to develop actionable evidence and offering practical tools for state and local workforce stakeholders who want to build a strong workforce.

Publications

Child Care Assistance for Parents in Education and Training
October 2014 research report by Gina Adams, Caroline Heller, Shayne Spaulding, and Teresa Derrick-Mills

Building Alaska’s Science and Engineering Pipeline
January 2015 research report by Hamutal Bernstein, Carlos Martín, Lauren Eyster, Theresa Anderson, Stephanie Owen, and Ananda Martin-Caughey

​Evaluation of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP)
January 2015 research report by Hamutal Bernstein, Carlos Martín, Lauren Eyster, Theresa Anderson, Stephanie Owen, and Ananda Martin-Caughey

​Expanding Economic Opportunity for Young Men and Boys of Color through Employment and Training
February 2015 research report by Shayne Spaulding, Robert I. Lerman, Harry Holzer, and Lauren Eyster

​Supporting Youth Transitioning out of Foster Care, Issue Brief 3: Employment Programs
March 2015 brief by Sara Edelstein and Christopher Lowenstein

​Bridging the Gap: Executive Summary
May 2015 brief by Gina Adams, Shayne Spaulding, and Caroline Heller 

Bridging the Gap: Exploring the Intersection of Workforce Development and Child Care
May 2015 research report by Gina Adams, Shayne Spaulding, and Caroline Heller

Health Profession Opportunity Grants: Year Four Annual Report 2013–2014
July 2015 research report by Nathan Sick, Thomas Callan, Pamela J. Loprest, and Alan Werner

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Child Care for Low-Income Parents
July 2015 brief by Shayne Spaulding

The Child Care and Development Fund and Workforce Development for Low-Income Parents
July 2015 brief by Gina Adams and Caroline Heller

Coordinating Workforce and Economic Development under WIOA
October 2015 brief by Lauren Eyster

​Training TANF Recipients for Careers in Healthcare: The Experience of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program
October 2015 brief by Alyssa Rulf Fountain, Alan Werner, Maureen Sarna, Elizabeth Giardino, Gretchen Locke, and Pamela J. Loprest

​The Goals and Dimensions of Employer Engagement in Workforce Development Programs
December 2015 brief by Shayne Spaulding and Ananda Martin-Caughey

​Using Performance Information to Manage Health Professions Training Programs
December 2015 research report by Nathan Dietz, Elaine Morley, Harry P. Hatry, and Nathan Sick

Supporting Parents Who Work and Go to School: A Portrait of Low-Income Students Who Are Employed
January 2016 brief by Shayne Spaulding, Teresa Derrick-Mills, and Thomas Callan

​Understanding Local Workforce Systems
March 2016 brief by Lauren Eyster, Christin Durham, Michelle Van Noy, and Neil Damron

​Supporting the Child Care and Workforce Development Needs of TANF Families
April 2016 research report by Heather Hahn, Gina Adams, Shayne Spaulding, and Caroline Heller

Partnering to Meet the Child Care Needs of Parents in Education and Training: Four Profiles of Collaboration
April 2016 research report by Teresa Derrick-Mills, Caroline Heller, and Gina Adams

Realizing Employment Goals for Youth through Digital Badges: Lessons and Opportunities from Workforce Development
May 2016 research report by Shayne Spaulding and Martha C. Johnson

Systems Change under the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program
June 2016 research report by Hamutal Bernstein, Lauren Eyster, Jennifer Yahner, Stephanie Own, and Pamela Loprest

​Evaluation of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants Program: Descriptive Implementation and Outcome Study Report
June 2016 research reprt by Alan Werner, Robin Koralek, Pamela Loprest, Radha Roy, Deena Schwartz, Ann Collins, and Allison Stolte

Urban Wire posts

Evidence-based policy calls for expanding apprenticeships
August 2013 blog post by Robert I. Lerman

​What are the most promising ways to train and employ "starvation"-wage Americans?
August 2013 blog post by Lauren Eyster

The many benefits of expanding US apprenticeships
December 2013 blog post by Robert I. Lerman

​How do we grow our economy when most of the jobs are low wage and low skill?
January 2014 blog post by Lauren Eyster

​Five ways to help Americans get jobs
January 2014 blog post by Shayne Spaulding

Community health workers can help make Obamacare more cost-effective
March 2014 blog post by Lauren Eyster and Randall R. Bovbjerg

​Helping student parents succeed by ensuring access to child care
June 2014 blog post by Shayne Spaulding

What do we know about child care assistance for parents in education and training programs?
October 2014 blog post by Gina Adams

Helping low-income parents move up through education and training
October 2014 blog post by Lauren Eyster

Bipartisan support emerges for expanding apprenticeships
February 2015 blog post by Robert I. Lerman

​Looking toward 2016: Why expanding apprenticeships should be a priority
June 2015 blog post by Robert I. Lerman

What you need to know about the new workforce development bill
​July 2015 blog post by Lauren Eyster

Better supporting state economic development
October 2015 blog post by Norton Francis and Lauren Eyster

​Learning from the United Kingdom's success in generating 2 million apprenticeships
November 2015 blog post by Andrew Karas

Employer engagement: Getting it right under WIOA
December 2015 blog post by Shayne Spaulding and Ananda Martin-Caughey

Maryland teams up with England to expand apprenticeships
April 2016 blog post by Robert I. Lerman

​Six things states should know about apprenticeships
May 2016 blog post by Alexandra Tilsley

​Expanding economic opportunity for boys and young men of color through summer work experience opportunities
May 2016 blog post by Shayne Spaulding and Don Baylor

Using local workforce systems to support career pathways
May 2016 blog post by Christin Durham

Expanding opportunity through career pathways and training for middle-skill jobs
June 2016 blog post by Pamela Loprest

How 2017's leaders should think about jobs
June 2016 blog post by Shayne Spaulding and Lauren Eyster

Let's help imtermediaries expand US apprenticeships
July 2016 blog post by Robert Lerman

Events

Using Data to Help Low-Income Youth Find Jobs
May 2015 event

Badging the Future: Can Digital Credentials Create Pathways to Careers and College for Today's Youth?
May 2016 event

Related Projects

Bridging the Gap  |  Accelerating Opportunity  |  Local Workforce System  |  Financing Public Higher Education | New Skills at Work Assessment