Giving Compass' Take:

• Project QUEST is a workforce development training program located in San Antonio, TX that helps low-income individuals obtain job training and provides financial assistance, transportation, child care and more to help individuals pursue careers. 

• How can other workforce development programs emulate this model? 

• Read about colleges that are pushing more workforce development programs on students so that they develop skills for the workforce. 

A multiyear evaluation of Project QUEST, a workforce training program in San Antonio, shows that sector strategies — an approach to increasing jobs and career opportunities that the Casey Foundation has invested in for the last two decades — help low-income job seekers develop meaningful careers that lift them out of poverty.

Graduates of the program saw large increases in their pay over time. Average annual earnings grew from $11,400 for those entering the program to more than $38,000 by the final year of the randomized controlled trial. A report on the evaluation, Escalating Gains: Project QUEST’s Sectoral Strategy Pays Off, notes that participants who did not complete the program still earned higher hourly wages than individuals in the comparison group.

As low-skill manufacturing jobs began disappearing in the 1980s, two community-based organizations — COPS (Communities Organized for Public Service) and Metro Alliance — founded QUEST to help San Antonio residents gain skills to meet employers’ needs in growing sectors of the local economy.

About 74% of participants were Latino women with children, and nearly half had attended college in the past but had not earned a degree. QUEST, which the Foundation supported directly for several years, not only increased participants’ earnings, the study finds, it helped graduates reach the middle class. According to the authors, few workforce development programs have created this kind of mobility.

Read the full article about workforce development at The Annie E. Casey Foundation