Recent History of Sector Evaluation

For the past decade two leading organizations for the evaluation of sector initiatives - The Workforce Strategies Initiative at the Aspen Institute and Public-Private Ventures - have studied dozens, if not hundreds, of sector initiatives across the country. Their reports range from evaluation of specific sector initiatives (such as the garment industry in New York City) or industry-focused strategies in a particular region (such as Central Indiana) to cross-sector studies that evaluate industry-specific approaches to workforce development or demand side outcomes. A number of reports look at worker and employer outcomes across many regional sector initiatives across the country. A recent evaluation of a sample of sector initiatives is Targeting Industries, Training Workers and Improving Opportunities: The Final Report from the Sectoral Employment Initiative (Public-Private Ventures, December 2008). 

In addition to actual evaluations of sector approaches, much recent work is focusing on helping local areas and states to develop frameworks or templates for evaluation that can be standardized to some degree; but also left flexible enough to accommodate the variation in design, approach, and outcomes critical to sector model success. An early attempt at such a framework is: An Evaluation Framework for State Sector Strategies (National Governors Association, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, and National Network of Sector Partners, May 2008).

Here are some other templates that have been used:

  • A simple, one-page flexible model that is completely qualitative;
  • A highly-specific model for partnerships involving worker training; or
  • A broad matrix that incorporates impact on employer, worker, and public institutions, as well as effectiveness of the partnership.
  • A one-page "scorecard" that assesses impact on workers, employers, financial viability, and other indicators of success.