In March, @MDRC_News reported results of an RCT of @PerScholas — an employment/training program low-income adults, preparing them for well-paying jobs in Information Technology (IT). Quick take: High-quality RCT finds sizable earnings gain (16%, or $5200/year) at the 5–7 year follow-up (continued below).

Program:

  • Per Scholas provides participants with 15 weeks of occupational skills training in IT, career readiness services (e.g., resume & interviewing assistance), and job development & placement services. The program has strong relationships with local employers that hire workers with IT skills, & the employers help shape the program’s training curriculum & services. The program cost is approximately $7,700/participant.

Study Design:

  • The RCT study sample comprised 700 unemployed or low-wage workers in the Bronx, 81% of whom were Black or Hispanic.

Findings:

  • The main study findings are shown in the above graph. In long-term follow-up 5-7 year after study entry, Per Scholas produced a statistically significant 16% ($5,200) increase in average annual earnings, vs the control group. These effects showed no sign of diminishing over time.

Comment:

  • This is the 2nd RCT of Per Scholas showing big earnings effects, but both were conducted in the Bronx. Another RCT is underway in other sites to see if effects generalize elsewhere. Disclosure: My former employer, Arnold Ventures, funded the study's long-term (7-year) follow-up.

  • Here's a more detailed evidence summary of Per Scholas, & here’s the latest MDRC study report.  

  • One consideration in interpreting the results: Per Scholas carefully screens applicants & enrolls those deemed capable of completing training and succeeding in the IT field. The effects may not apply to individuals who fall outside such criteria.

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