Series # :
  ETAOP 2014-01
Title :
  Final Report Evaluation of the STEM Initiative
Release Date :
  May 27, 2014
Abstract :

As noted by a number of observers, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have become increasingly central to U.S. economic competitiveness and growth. To focus on strengthening the job training system in its attempts in training workers to meet the industry needs in STEM occupations, ETA announced the “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Opportunities in the Workforce System Initiative,” or the STEM Initiative, in 2008 as part of a broader ETA STEM action agenda. The major goals of the STEM Initiative were to attract and prepare disadvantaged youth and dislocated workers for STEM-related careers while simultaneously enhancing regional employer competitiveness. Social Policy Research Associates was contracted to conduct an implementation evaluation of the STEM initiative from 2009 to 2012. The evaluation studied key issues regarding the implementation and operation of programs and services, strategic partnerships, and outputs resulting from the grant projects drawing on existing data and conducted primary data collection. A qualitative study component was informed by three rounds of site visits to each STEM project conducted at various stages of project planning and operation as well as periodic telephone conversations with project managers. The quantitative component focused on data collected by the individual grantees on the characteristics of project participants, the services provided, and the outcomes achieved by individual participants.

Some of the findings of this study include the following:

Four of the five projects attempted to serve both dislocated workers and disadvantaged youth. Especially after the economic downturn, providing services to in-school youth to encourage them to seek career pathways in STEM fields over the long-term seemed, in many cases, to be a better investment than trying to work with adults who wanted rapid employment in STEM occupations in a very difficult job market. Because each group required very different kinds of services, managers at two projects reported that their efforts were stretched thin trying to serve both groups well.

The STEM grantees developed strategic partnerships to strengthen both overall project designs and the design and delivery of services to participants. As a result of their experiences, grantees learned that it was important to involve top-level staff, build partnerships with educational institutions, and develop effective strategies to involve representatives from the business community in the targeted sectors.

Grantees found that many dislocated workers who sought services from the STEM projects were in financial distress. Consequently, they were hesitant to enroll in long-term training programs even when such training might have improved their long-term employment prospects. Projects responded to dislocated workers’ apprehension about finding new employment by broadening the occupations in which they offered training that would help laid-off STEM workers find new jobs

Publication Author(s)
Social Policy Research Associates
  • Brandon Nicholson
  • Jill Leufgen
  • Michael Midling
  • Miloney Thakrar
  • Deborah Kogan
Full Text Document(s)
Additional Information

Hard copy available: No