Workforce & Economic Well Being

In our increasingly knowledge-based economy, workforce skills have arguably become the most critical ingredient in determining the competitiveness of a region or cluster. For low-income individuals, enhanced career skills and/or academic credentials can open the path to earning a self-sustaining income.

We view workforce development as more than an agglomeration of programs. Successful workforce development requires a continuum of services that build the skills demanded in the marketplace, connect workers with employers, encourage career advancement, and provide the supportive infrastructure for work/family balance. This approach requires a combination of program development, organizational capacity building, and increased coordination among service providers to create a more integrated workforce development system.

Mt. Auburn’s services draw upon our broad expertise in workforce development. We evaluate workforce development initiatives, assist clients on strategic plans for regional Workforce Investment Boards, develop sector-specific workforce development strategies, advise union-based programs, write policy papers, and integrate workforce recommendations into all our strategic planning projects.

Our rich experience in workforce development evaluation allows us to stay on the cutting edge of practice in this area and to maintain a realistic understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by training programs in the field. We employ these lessons in our workforce-related policy and strategic planning work.

Evaluation of Programs involving Braided Services and Financial Empowerment

Mt. Auburn understands the challenges involved in efforts to braid services, which include financial coaching and income and work supports, are important, particularly in the formative stage of an initiative. Mt. Auburn has developed particular expertise in this area, most notably through our evaluation of Chelsea CONNECT, a three-year initiative in the Boston area focused on using an integrated approach to improve the process of moving low-skilled, low-income individuals to greater economic stability through co-locating and braiding workforce development, education, financial coaching, and asset building services that have previously been provided in a siloed fashion in multiple locations. We are also currently advising and guiding the evaluation of United Way’s Financial Coaching Capacity Building Initiative in Greater Boston. The initiative involves developing and implementing a standards-based financial coaching model at four partner agencies that enables low-income residents to make progress towards economic self-sufficiency. Mt. Auburn has advised UWMBMV on the structure of the evaluation, developed survey instruments for participants and coaches along with interview protocols for coaches, and will be assisting with data analysis over the course of the initiative. Finally, Mt. Auburn evaluated efforts in Seattle and Louisville to change their social service systems through a financial empowerment framework. Mt. Auburn was asked by the funder to observe, document, and analyze progress over time, present formative feedback, and producing a final report on the sustainability of any system change observed.

Connecticut One-Stop Career Center Study

Mt. Auburn completed a study for the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission to inform its decision on whether to modify existing state policy to give Connecticut's Workforce Investment Boards the option of directly operating Career Centers and delivering services. The study also analyzed the broader efficiency and effectiveness of Connecticut's Career Center system. Our work included detailed revenue and expenditure analyses; analyses of management, programming, and Career Center performance in each Workforce Investment Area; and research on Career Center management structures in other states.