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Providing Employment Services to the Long-Term Unemployed: Implementation and Sustainability of the Programs in the Ready to Work Partnership Grant Evaluation

Elizabeth Copson, Karin Martinson, Tresa Kappil, Cara Sierks, Abt Global; Sam Elkin, Bright Sarfo, Carly Morrison, MEF Associates


September 1, 2021

The Ready to Work (RTW) Partnership Grant program, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) after the 2008-2009 recession, was designed to help those experiencing long spells of unemployment find jobs and succeed in the labor market. The RTW grant program focused on occupations and industries being filled by foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. In 2014, 24 partnerships of workforce agencies, training providers, employers, and other organizations received RTW grants to provide customized employment services to long-term unemployed workers.

DOL sponsored an evaluation of the RTW grant program that is being conducted by Abt Global in partnership with MEF Associates. The evaluation includes an implementation study and an impact study of four grantees. This report documents findings from the implementation study, and separate reports present the impact findings. Based on interviews with program staff and program administrative data, this report describes how the four grantee programs were implemented over the grant period, sustainable institutional benefits, and lessons for future workforce programs.

The study found grantees provided the range of services specified by DOL, with some emphasizing upgrading skills through occupational training and others emphasizing employment readiness skills. As the economy improved and the more job-ready unemployed workers found jobs, grantees reported that they served workers who faced greater barriers to employment. Grantees adjusted their programs to better serve this population.