The WorkAdvance model aims to meet the needs of less-skilled workers and local employers by providing training and employment services in fields with high local demand.
The WorkAdvance model includes five key elements: (1) intensive screening before enrollment; (2) preemployment and work-readiness services, including career coaching, supportive services, and labor market information, all tailored to a specific vocational sector; (3) occupational skills training focused on current job openings; (4) job development and placement; and (5) provision of follow-up retention services in collaboration with employers. It is a versatile model that organizations implement in various ways.
Madison Strategies Group, a nonprofit provider in Tulsa, OK, implemented the WorkAdvance model with an emphasis on the transportation and manufacturing sectors. Madison Strategies Group first implemented the model by offering a placement-first approach, which included intensive screening and work-readiness services and which allowed participants who were able to qualify for a job in the targeted sector to skip occupational skills training and seek immediate employment. In fall 2012, Madison Strategies Group switched to a training-first approach in which participants attended training before job placement. Madison Strategies Group delivered preemployment services in 5 sessions of 6 hours each, and occupational skills training lasted 4 to 32 weeks. Preemployment coaching consisted of one-on-one meetings and weekly group meetings. Supportive services included transportation vouchers and referrals for help with work clothing, legal issues, or housing issues. WorkAdvance focused on recruiting individuals ages 18 or older who were legally allowed to work in the United States, had a monthly family income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and earned less than $15 per hour, if employed.
WorkAdvance is a sector-based workforce development model whose design was informed by prior research on sector strategies and career advancement. Madison Strategies Group WorkAdvance is a specific version of the WorkAdvance model. Three other sites implemented the WorkAdvance model as part of the WorkAdvance Demonstration, each with differing length, breadth, and depth of services: St. Nick’s Alliance in Brooklyn, NY; Towards Employment in northeast Ohio; and Per Scholas in the Bronx, New York City.