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Providing Employment Services to the Long-Term Unemployed: Insights on Implementation and Sustainability from the Ready to Work Partnership Grant Evaluation (BRIEF)

Release Date

Jul 19, 2021

Publication Author(s)

  • Abt Associates
  • Cara Sierks
  • Karin Martinson
  • Tresa Kappil
  • MEF Associates
  • Bright Sarfo
  • Carly Morrison
  • Sam Elkin

Research Methodology

  • Qualitative Analysis


  • Adult
  • Dislocated Worker
  • Employers

States & Territories

  • California
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Oregon


In 2014, the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration awarded four-year grants totaling $180 million to 24 grantees as part of the Ready to Work Partnership (RTW). Grant funds were used to provide a range of customized services to long-term unemployed workers. RTW partnerships of workforce agencies, training providers, employers, and other local organizations established programs to prepare workers for employment, particularly in occupations and industries being filled by foreign workers through the H-1B visa program.

The evaluation of the RTW grant program includes two major components. The implementation brief report provides an overview of the program and evaluation and summarizes key findings about the four selected programs: Maryland Tech Connection - Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation (Anne Arundel, MD); Skills to Work in Technology and Job Search Accelerator Programs - Jewish Vocational Services (San Francisco, CA), Finger Lakes Hired Program - RochesterWorks! (Rochester, NY), and Reboot Northwest - Worksystems, Inc. (Multnomah and Washington counties, OR). An impact study, using a random assignment research design to estimate program effects on participant outcomes of interest, including educational attainment, employment, and earnings, will be completed at a later date. This report presents results from the implementation study, and is primarily based upon data collected through in-person interviews with program administrators, line staff, and organizational partners between 2016 and 2018. These qualitative data are augmented with analyses of program administrative data on patterns of participation.

Key findings from the implementation study indicate:

  • The grantee programs provided a similar range of services, but they varied substantially in their primary emphasis on occupational training or employment readiness.
  • As the economy improved over the four-year grant period, grantees reported that they generally served workers who faced greater barriers to employment than originally envisioned. Grantees adjusted their programs to better serve this population.
  • Aggressive recruitment strategies were needed to meet the programs' enrollment targets and, despite the recruitment challenges, grantees enrolled the population targeted by the grant.
  • Participation in occupational training was high, but much of the training attended was short term.
  • Strong connections were established with employers and these relationships supported several aspects of program operations.
  • The grantees planned to continue using material developed for the employment readiness activities to assist other unemployed populations.
  • Some grantees designed and developed occupational training programs for cohorts of participants, and hoped to continue this training model.
  • Regional partnerships with other workforce agencies developed or advanced under the grants continued after the grants ended.
  • Grantees identified ways to sustain the employer relationships that had been established under the RTW grants.

The study concludes with implications and lessons for future programs that could inform future efforts to move unemployed individuals back to work.

Final Report

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