The H-1B visa program, established in 1990 by Congress, allows employers to hire foreigners to work in “specialty occupations” (such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health care, business, financial services, or life sciences) on a temporary basis. In 1998, a user fee was added to fund scholarship and training programs that develop the skills of the existing U.S. workforce in high-demand fields that employ large numbers of H-1B workers.

Two recent programs funded through this authority are H-1B TechHire Partnership Grants and the Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI).

The goal is to prepare individuals for middle- and high-skill jobs in high-growth H-1B industries. TechHire gives young adults and special populations accelerated and specialized skills training.

SWFI provides flexible training for jobs in H-1B growth industries and provides parents with access to affordable, quality childcare. These programs aim to make training more accessible and shorter, and to connect disadvantaged populations to high-growth sectors of the labor market.

The TH/SWFI evaluation will look to address the following research questions:

  • What challenges did programs face in implementation, and how were those challenges overcome?
  • What strategies and approaches are promising for addressing systematic barriers individuals may face?
  • How did the customized supportive services and education/training tracks improve training completion rates, connect participants to employment opportunities in the fields in which they trained, and promote innovative and sustainable program designs and support systems?
  • To what extent did the TH/SWFI programs improve individuals’ enrollment in and completion of training, their skills and credentials, their employment and earnings, their advancement and job quality, or their secondary outcomes such as overall well-being, health, and housing status?
  • For SWFI grantees, how were child care systems and partnerships built and maintained?

Read the full article on TechHire and Strengthening Working Families Initiative at MDRC