Description: The National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ (NASWA) Center for Employment Security Education and Research released this report summarizing the current research and analysis capacity of its member state workforce agencies. In all, 41 states participated in the assessment, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Findings

  • Forty out of 41 state workforce agencies (SWAs) report there is demand—from the governor’s office, the legislature, or within the agency—for the kinds of workforce information research and evaluations can yield.
  • Three sets of assessment questions asked SWAs to gauge interest or demand and capacity for:

(1)  Types of research and evaluations produced and the kinds of state and/or outside research partnerships related to funding, conducting, or participating in research and evaluation projects;

(2)  Current staff levels, experiences, and skills to conduct research and evaluations; funding available for research and evaluations; as well as the current and future efforts to produce research and evaluation studies or evaluations; and

(3)  Publically available studies and evaluations with information related to authors and partners, research methods and data sets, central research questions, and approximate costs of studies.

  • Evidence-building capacity varies tremendously by state, and, while some states published a large number of research products, half the states reported producing three or fewer in-house research and evaluation studies over 5 years.

Ohio and Washington are among the few SWAs with significant workforce research and evaluation activity, backed by longitudinal administrative data sets. Although their models differ, both states have achieved substantial research accomplishments based on a long history of using evidence to support policy development, critical funding support, buy-in from agency heads and state leaders, and access to well-led, high-capacity research units.

How it was helpful to an Evaluation and Research Hub (Eval Hub) PLC member: “…in our shops, we do BLS programs and we have our ETA WIB funding. When I first started, there was no mention about evidence-based research or anything like that. It wasn't until I started attending NASWA LMI committee meetings where I started learning about this research going on across the country and in some cases, in LMI shops. That was really eye opening to me.”

This is a PLC-recommended resource – an evaluation report, tool, or technical assistance product that a Peer Learning Cohort member identified as being particularly helpful to his or her research and evaluation efforts. See a list of all PLC member-approved resources.