This report documents the implementation and early impacts of the Workforce Training Academy Connect (WTA Connect) program, operated by Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Des Moines, Iowa. WTA Connect aimed to help low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete occupational training that can lead to increased employment and higher earnings. It is one of nine career pathways programs being evaluated under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families.
WTA Connect aimed to provide a pathway for low-skilled students to enroll in occupational certificate courses when their low levels of basic skills made them otherwise ineligible. It provided basic skills remediation (including enrollment in high school equivalency classes if needed), development of self-efficacy and goal-setting skills, and proactive advising. After completing the basic skills requirements, WTA Connect participants could enroll in occupational certificate courses in fields such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and administrative support. The entire package of program components was provided free to participants.
Using a rigorous research design, the study found that WTA Connect resulted in a modest increase in attainment of credentials by participants within the 18-month follow-up period, but no other educational or career impacts. Future reports will examine whether this credential effect translates into gains in employment and earnings. (Author abstract)