Research & Evaluation

AspenWSI’s research and evaluation work has three objectives:

  • Identify promising new workforce development innovations
  • Provide support to build the quality of workforce development activity in the field
  • Inform policy discussions

Participatory learning assessment is the hallmark of our research approach.  We actively engage workforce development stakeholders in activities designed to identify research issues, determine key questions and research methods, and collect, analyze and use data.  We conduct participant outcomes studies, surveys, and in-depth interviews and focus groups with a variety of informants, including program participants, staff and leaders, investors, policy-setters and business customers of workforce services.

This page highlights selected research projects.  You can find more information about these projects and other AspenWSI research on the Research and Resources page.

Courses to Employment

Community-based organizations working to improve opportunities and outcomes for low-income individuals increasingly are partnering with local community colleges to improve pathways into and through post-secondary training and education, and then on to quality jobs.  AspenWSI’s research highlights the role these partnerships play in addressing special supports low-income adults need to succeed in education linked to employment.

Construction Pre-Apprenticeship Research

AspenWSI is exploring the capacity of the workforce system to prepare individuals—particularly low-income and minority jobseekers—for jobs in the construction industry.  We conducted research to learn program leaders’ perspectives on factors influencing the design of their programs, the job opportunities available in local labor markets, opportunities and challenges associated with financing the work, and merits of incorporating green elements into curriculum.  We are currently exploring factors that affect retention of apprentices in their training and employment.

Linking Workforce Development and Economic Development

There is considerable conversation in both workforce and economic development circles about the importance of a skilled workforce in developing, attracting and retaining businesses within a region.  As public agencies pursue their desire to link economic and workforce development activities, a key question arises.  Can this movement present new opportunities for low-wage workers?

Sectoral Strategies for Low-Income Workers

AspenWSI and a team of colleagues examined the depth and breadth of the sectoral employment development field.  Project researchers sought to define “sector” in light of current workforce development practices, and to provide examples of specific strategies being used to improve opportunities for low-wage workers in local labor markets.

Public/Private Ventures Sectoral Employment Impact Study

This random assignment study shows that participants of three sector initiatives earned approximately $4,500 (18%) more than a control group during a two-year period following program participation.  This research was conducted by Public Private/Ventures; AspenWSI Director Maureen Conway collaborated on research and co-authored study reports.

Sectoral Employment Development Learning Project (SEDLP)

This 4 ½ year project was an intensive learning evaluation of the outcomes, strategies and industry relationships of six pioneering sectoral initiatives.  AspenWSI produced a series of program case studies, research reports highlighting participants’ labor market outcomes, and a policy series that benchmarked participant outcomes against findings from other prominent studies of workforce development demonstrations.