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Workforce Policy Research
Workforce policy research is a major area of focus at IMPAQ. Our research staff members include recognized experts in the areas of entrepreneurship, unemployment insurance, and workforce investment system programs. These individuals have worked on a variety of important, high-profile projects for the U.S. Department of Labor and other government agencies in the workforce policy arena.
Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment
A core area of expertise of IMPAQ staff is in the evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of entrepreneurship and other self-employment programs on labor market outcomes. Prior to founding IMPAQ, Dr. Jacob Benus, Executive Director for Research at IMPAQ, conducted a number of ground-breaking studies on self-employment, including a five-year experimental design study of a self-employment program for unemployed workers in several states, conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor. He also conducted a similar evaluation project of self-employment programs for the Canadian government.
Dr. Benus brought this expertise to IMPAQ, which resulted in IMPAQ’s being selected to implement and evaluate Project GATE, a five-year, $10 million, multi-site project, performed under contract to the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL/ETA). For this random-assignment experimental design project, IMPAQ tracked over 2,000 treatment and 2,000 control group members to evaluate the impact of micro-enterprise training on employment outcomes. An impact evaluation was conducted using data collected on program participation, follow-up survey data, and Unemployment Insurance administrative data.
IMPAQ staff has extensive experience in the research and analysis of unemployment insurance programs around the world. For example, IMPAQ is currently conducting a study of the United States’ Unemployment Insurance (UI) System. The goal of the project is to provide detailed, empirical information on the effectiveness and impact of the U.S. Unemployment Insurance program to develop new UI policies and plan future research projects.
A key element of the Unemployment Insurance Benefits Study has been obtaining and using administrative records in conducting a series of quantitative research studies. For this project, IMPAQ was successful in collecting multi-year UI administrative data from 21 states. IMPAQ worked closely with these states to communicate the project’s data needs and facilitate a smooth data transfer, while guaranteeing strict data security procedures. Using this data, IMPAQ has prepared a series of reports which assess the effectiveness and impact of the UI program and identifies trends and issues related to the system that government decision-makers are using to review UI policies.
Another key element of IMPAQ’s UI Benefits study is the conduct of an evaluation of the Reemployment Eligibility Assessment (REA) initiative. This study evaluated whether the provision of REA services has resulted in more rapid reemployment for UI claimants and cost-savings for the state’s UI trust funds. To conduct the evaluation, IMPAQ staff conducted visits to 21 program sites to interview program staff regarding the implementation of their REA program and to collect relevant program documentation. IMPAQ also designed and administered a telephone survey to more than 9,000 persons receiving REA services and analyzed UI administrative data.
Workforce Investment Programs
Throughout its corporate history, IMPAQ has conducted research and provided technical assistance to the government-sponsored workforce investment system. For example,IMPAQ recently completed a non-experimental, net impact evaluation of the receipt of Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Core/Intensive services and training on Adult and Dislocated Worker program participant’s employment and income outcomes – the Workforce Investment Act Net Impact Evaluation project. As part of this study, IMPAQ collected administrative data from 12 selected states around the country and applied a matched comparison group methodology to estimate net impacts by funding stream and by demographic subgroups.
IMPAQ also has provided technical assistance and training support to the workforce investment system. For the Workforce System Training and Technical Assistance project, IMPAQ supported the Employment and Training Administration’s Regions I, II, and III (based in Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta respectively) in a number of capacity building efforts, including facilitating and managing workshops, conferences, forums, and seminars; conducting research on workforce issues through focus groups and site visits; and conducting webinars on critical workforce investment system issues.
IMPAQ is currently supporting the National Reemployment Technical Assistance Initiative, which is a national task force focused on revitalizing the reemployment function of the workforce investment system to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy. To date, IMPAQ has developed a bibliography of research and evaluation projects conducted on reemployment; conducted focus groups on reemployment challenges across the U.S.; and developed and delivered webinars on reemployment issues. Phase II of the project will involve the conduct of detailed case studies of six selected regions’ reemployment practices and the implementation of pilot sites which will be provided intensive technical assistance support in implementing new approaches to reemployment.