Assessing Impact

For an overview of the role of evaluation in sector partnerships, view this video.

Impact on Employers

Sector initiatives need to know how they are or are not effectively serving their customers, both employers and jobseekers. Measuring the value of a sector initiative to business can be challenging. Value may vary depending on the industry, the size of employers involved (e.g. are they small manufacturers or enormous hospitals?), and the types of challenges they are experiencing. Because of this variation, each sector initiative must carefully define what success for the industry will look like, how to measure it, and how to collect the data. Some long-term employer benefits might include reduced turnover, improved operations, upgraded workforce skills, a higher quality applicant pool, realized cost savings, increased workforce diversity, or creation of new networking opportunities for employers. Most sector initiatives consider both qualitative measures that can be gathered by survey or testimony, and quantitative measures. The Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Institute offers one template, the Business Value Assessment that some states and local areas are using as a guide for measuring impact on employers. The Center for Energy Workforce Development has published a toolkit to help energy companies measure the impact of their workforce development activities, and much of this content is applicable to companies in other industries as well.

Consider that your evaluation methods can be as simple or complicated as you want them to be, and that sometimes the best way to assess value to participating employers is to ask them directly: Is this working for you? Is this valuable? 

Impact on Workers and Jobseekers

Sector initiatives have proven to have substantial benefits to workers and job seekers. These include increased rates of employment, higher salaries, better benefits, increased hours, increased job satisfaction, improved career advancement prospects, and increased access to education. To realize these types of outcomes, your sector initiative will need to define success for workers and jobseekers early in your efforts, and design a mechanism to track and collect relevant data. 

Role of and Impact on Education and Training Systems

Part of the long-term outcomes of a sector initiative is how education and training systems participate in and are impacted by the activities of the effort. A useful question to ask is: Do educators agree that the partnership is or will help them to meet employers’ and students’ needs better? If so, consider that the partnership has impacted them, and that their role is critical to the initiative's success. Also consider the strength and flexibility of the services provided by the training institutions - including new or updated skills standards, the development of career pathways, new coursework or credentials, changes to student support policies, increased enrollment in industry-relevant curricula, modularization of curricula, increased retention and graduation rates, delivery of training off campus, enhanced e-learning opportunities, etc. 

Effectiveness of the Partnership

Every sector initiative must self-assess its effectiveness as a partnership. This might include: 

  • Evidence of appropriate partners convening, and identifying industry challenges and solutions.
  • Self-identified short and long term outcomes measures.
  • Evidence of a plan of action, or a roadmap with direct line of sight to goals and outcomes.
  • All partners agreeing that the Skill Panel will collectively address a wide range of workforce / talent development challenges in the region.
  • New and leveraged funding (sources and $ amounts).

Systems Change

As previously discussed, systems change factors can be part of the long term change that results from your sector iniatiative. These types of changes occur when public systems (such as workforce systems, education institutions or economic development entities) or industries alter their long-term and on-going behavior as a result of the initiative. Some changes might be: 

  • New, re-structured education, training, social, and business supports
  • Changes in public policy
  • Changes in employer practices