Labor policy and programs serve a variety of target populations, many considered “hard to reach,” including disadvantaged youth, disabled workers, older workers, women in the workplace, veteran workers, and ex-offender workers.
Be it the use of specific sampling techniques, employing lessons learned from past work, employing innovative technology like text messaging, or utilizing our knowledge about specific characteristics of the target populations, IMPAQ has significant experience surveying hard to reach populations.
Improving the Lives of Youth and Young Adults Facing Barriers
Research and evidence for programs and policies related to vulnerable, at-risk, or disconnected young adults.
With rates of unemployment for young adults ages 16 – 24 consistently more than double the national average—even greater for those facing additional barriers—the myriad effects caused by so many young adults being disconnected from the workforce remain a national challenge. With tight or decreasing budgets, programs that expand youth employment opportunities and reduce barriers for disadvantaged youth rely on evidence to both demonstrate their effectiveness and improve outcomes.
With research expertise in program design and education, training, and employment outcomes, IMPAQ International helps our clients evaluate and enhance their programs and policies related to vulnerable, at-risk, or disconnected young adults. Our multidisciplinary teams combine expertise in youth development, community development, education, and workforce development.
For example, IMPAQ recently conducted an independent third-party evaluation of a Workforce Innovation Fund program serving disconnected young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who have been unemployed and out of school for at least 90 days. The intervention included those who were low-income; gang-involved or ex-offenders; receiving public assistance; or a recently separated veteran. The evaluation included both qualitative and quantitative aspects and provided stakeholders with analysis of the program’s implementation, outcomes, impacts, and costs and benefits. IMPAQ’s work is contributing to the body of literature on programming for disconnected young adults.
Evidence for Programs that Serve Job Seekers and Workers with Disabilities
Access to participation in the workforce is critical to ensuring equal opportunity, maximizing community participation, and improving quality of life for individuals with disability-related employment barriers. These barriers can include lack of education or training, lack of transportation, the need for special features at the job, attitudinal barriers, or specific challenges associated with the disability itself.
However, despite numerous efforts to develop and implement programs targeting this population, unemployment remains significantly higher and labor force participation significantly lower for individuals with disabilities than for those without.
With research and expertise in both workforce development and target populations, IMPAQ can assess the impact of initiatives and programs, and how best to serve job seekers and workers with disabilities. IMPAQ team members have evaluated a variety of initiatives and approaches to increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Many of our studies have centered on strategies for individuals with specific types of disabilities, such as supported employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, case management in vocational rehabilitation for individuals with traumatic brain injuries, optimum models of supported employment for individuals with chronic mental illness, and vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with learning disabilities.
Our research has also addressed employment supports for the larger disability community, such as model community-wide disability employment service systems, strategies for improving job retention, and improvements in the vocational rehabilitation system as a whole.
In recent years, IMPAQ has focused on efforts to improve services to individuals with disabilities through the mainstream public workforce system, including evaluating the accessibility of American Job Centers (AJC), assessing the role of the AJCs in the Ticket To Work program that assists SSI and SSDI beneficiaries to enter or re-enter the workforce, and evaluating systems-change initiatives such as the Disability Employment Initiative and the Add Us In grant program.
Understanding the Participation of Older Workers in the Labor Market
The percentage of the population aged 65 and older continues to climb and is projected to reach more than 20 percent of the total population by 2050. At the same time, the labor force participation rate of individuals age 55 and older has steadily increased since the 1990's, reversing the previous decades’ trend toward early retirement. Aging Americans have witnessed dramatic changes in the labor force after the Great Recession. These changes have jeopardized retirement plans and expectations of this increasingly vulnerable population. Federal, state, and local agencies require reliable data to design responsive initiatives that address the employment and reemployment needs of an aging nation.
Through our research, IMPAQ is unpacking the complexity of this problem to better understand the demand- and supply-side factors that encourage or inhibit the full participation of older workers in the labor market.
For example, IMPAQ is conducting a rigorous literature review and statistical analysis for the U.S. Department of Labor, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Chief Evaluation Office to measure the immediate and long-term impact of the Great Recession on older workers. The study seeks to answer several critical questions for policy-making. For instance: Are the low-skilled individuals more likely to transition out of the labor force in the absence of a good job market, or are they more likely to be in bridge jobs since pension and savings may not be sufficient to sustain them in retirement?
Promoting Successful Transitions from Incarceration to the Workforce
Barriers to employment can include previous incarceration, homelessness, substance abuse issues, and a lack of recent job experiences. Studies suggest that having barriers such as a criminal record adversely affects subsequent employment wages and job stability. Effective public policy and programs require evidence and reliable data to help individuals secure long-term, unsubsidized employment.
With research and expertise in both workforce development and target populations, IMPAQ helps our clients understand their impact and how best to serve persons with a history of incarceration in order to address their unique barriers to employment. By bringing together a multidisciplinary team of researchers, survey professionals, technical innovators, and subject matter experts, we develop customized approaches that are appropriate for evaluating and enhancing programs that target special populations.
For example, IMPAQ recently conducted a Comparative Analysis for Project Empowerment (PE), a Washington, DC based publicly funded transitional employment program (TEP) that serves persons with a history of incarceration. IMPAQ explored the existing research on TEPs and compared the service delivery models and participant experience of PE to similar TEPs.
Read more about these and related projects below.
Complete our contact form or call us at (443) 259-5500 to discuss how IMPAQ can help evaluate and enhance public programs and policies.