The Workforce Benchmarking Network: Resources to Improve Program Results
The workforce development community faces critical questions about the field:
- How do we ensure that workforce services are producing the best possible results?
- How can CBOs share knowledge about employer partnership development and job preparation practices?
- How do funders know whether their investments are yielding good results?
- How can funders and policy makers support CBO internal capacity to improve outcomes?
To answer these and other questions, WPTI oversees the New York City efforts of the Workforce Benchmarking Network, a national project to collect performance metrics and identify best practices among community-based providers of workforce services. The network also provides training and technical assistance in specific cities to support continuous program improvement by workforce practitioners. Led nationally by Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, the network’s partners include the Chicago Jobs Council and private funders in Baltimore and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
With support and guidance of WPTI, the Workforce Benchmarking Network has achieved the following in New York City:
Useful Performance Benchmarks
- Since 2008, 50 NYC organizations have submitted aggregated data on over 100 program cohorts into the national Benchmarking survey of workforce providers.
- Nationally, the Benchmarking dataset includes information from more than 340 organizations, making it the country’s largest resource on the outcomes of community-based workforce providers.
- The dataset continues to grow, with information on participant demographics, services received, program completion, credential attainment, enrollment in higher education, job placement (full-time and part-time), job retention and wages.
- The report, Apples to Apples: Making Data Work for Community-Based Workforce Development Programs (2013, with data updated in 2016), provides a summary of these benchmarks. Individual providers can access online confidential reports showing how their outcomes compare to similar programs, which helps to clarify specific strengths and areas for improvement.
Guidelines and Tools for Effective Practice
- The Benchmarking Network continues to compile guidelines and examples of effective practice—called “Success Drivers”—that are informed by research and input from high-performing practitioners.
- In 2015, WPTI used a grant from the NYC Workforce Funders to update the Success Drivers with a greater focus on employer-driven programming. WPTI has designed a program self-assessment tool around the updated drivers for use by NYC organizations.
Better Results Through Better Use of Data
- In New York City and other cities, the Benchmarking Network has provided workshops and peer learning groups to help organizations strengthen their capacity to use data and other information to improve program effectiveness. Teams of senior leaders, program managers and frontline staff have identified important progress metrics and applied quality improvement methods.
- These peer learning groups have generated concrete, positive results: increases in employer engagement levels, more internship-to-employment conversions, higher training completion rates, improved participant skills, and better applicants from referral agencies.
- WPTI has integrated this approach into its learning and technical assistance offerings for all NYC workforce practitioners.
Greater Alignment of Metrics and Data Reporting
- The Workforce Benchmarking Network focuses on reducing the reporting burden on providers created by multiple funding streams, while providing more consistent data for use across the system.
- WPTI has facilitated the development of a shared tool to streamline and standardize reporting of workforce grant outcomes for several key NYC foundations.
- Other Benchmarking initiatives include work on a set of shared outcome measures among public and private funders in the Twin Cities region, as well as engagement with a new data system being developed across workforce funding sources in Chicago.