Conference material

The WorkAdvance Demonstration—Testing a Sector-Based Training Programme

​Held on 13 September 2017, the 3rd MSF-CSC Social Sector Conference 2017 saw four speakers — Mauricio Lim Miller, Dean Schillinger, Elisabeth Mason and James Riccio — sharing their views on tackling complex vulnerabilities with innovative solutions, and how cross-sector partnerships and sustainable approaches were developed for low-income families.​​​​

Date Posted

29 Sep 2017


Digital Issue 3, 20 Sep 2018


WorkAdvance (WA) is a sector-based training programme which emphasises the roles of both the employees and employers (consulting on curriculum design, conducting of mock interviews, and provision of hands-on training). Features of the WA model are sector focused and include preparations for career readiness, occupational skills training, job development and placement, and post-placement support for retention/advancement.

WA is demonstrated through four sector-based programmes organised by four different non-profit organisations over three states in the United States.  From June 2011 to June 2013, MDRC ran randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on these four programmes to evaluate their effectiveness. The results showed an overall positive effect on the completion of training, earnings, career readiness among other indicators for the WA group compared to the control group (although important variations in outcomes existed across the four RCT sites).

However, the WA programme has the following limitations:

  1. Unless there is a broad selection of sectors, its reach will be limited.  To cover a broader segment of the population, it is necessary to have a wide range of occupational sectors.
  2. Some employees do not immediately qualify for WA due to a lack of certain skills. A bridging programme would have been useful to help them attain those skills.
  3. Some employees may need monetary assistance while undergoing full-time training as they cannot afford not to work.
  4. There is a time lag between training and deployment. Training organisations need to know where their respective industries are headed to ensure that they are training in-demand occupations.

Despite the above limitations, sector-based training as exemplified by WA remains a promising tool in addressing the issue of ensuring effective training.

Download the presentation slides in PDF (854KB)


James Riccio, Director, Low-Wage Workers and Communities Policy Area, MDRC

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