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Department Seeks Comment on Proposed Visits to Job Clubs; Evaluation to Learn More about Characteristics and Effectiveness of Volunteer-Led and Faith-Based and Community-Based Sponsorship
Mar 5, 2013
The Department of Labor has published an announcement of its intent to seek OMB clearance for Job Club visits to be conducted by Capital Research Corporation with a subcontract to George Washington University. The proposed data collection effort is judged “necessary to fill a gap in existing knowledge about the extent, characteristics, and effectiveness of volunteer-led and faith-based and community-based organizations' sponsorship of job clubs for unemployed and underemployed workers.”

Comments are due by March 28. Click here for instructions to obtain a copy of the ICR and the summary of the desired focus for public comment.

The Department outlines this background, study methodology, and evaluation objectives:

Over the past several decades, job search support groups, commonly referred to as "job clubs" have evolved into one of several important activities used by the public workforce system and community-based organizations to enhance worker readiness and employability, as well as to provide ongoing support to unemployed and underemployed individuals as they search for jobs. While many job clubs are formally run through the public workforce system--including at Department of Labor funded American Job Centers--they have especially expanded in recent years through faith-based organizations, such as church ministries; volunteer-run networking groups that meet at coffee shops or public libraries; and online networking sites such as LinkedIn.

There have been past evaluations of the effects of job clubs sponsored by the public sector on job placement, but there has been little assessment and/or empirical study of volunteer-run job clubs and job search support groups sponsored by faith-based and community-based organizations. For example, during the 1980s, there was a great deal of interest in job clubs to help a wide variety of unemployed workers, including older workers, welfare recipients, and formerly incarcerated individuals. A number of evaluations found that job clubs had a large and significant impact on speeding up participants' return to work. While it would seem likely that volunteer-run job clubs and those offered through faith-based and community-based organizations could have similar effects in terms of speeding the return to work for unemployed individuals, there have been few (if any) rigorous empirical research studies completed on this subject. There have, however, been some qualitative studies completed on the role of community-based and faith-based organizations in providing employment and training services. For example, a 2001 study for the Department of Labor documented and assessed the role of faith-based organizations in providing employment and training services, based in part on interviews conducted by telephone with faith-based organizations. This study broadly assessed the role of these organizations in delivering such services, with a focus on the role of faith-based organizations in providing job readiness workshops, job clubs, and other types of assistance to help unemployed individuals find jobs.

Site visits to six organizations sponsoring job clubs is the focus of this ICR aimed at:

(1) Systematically describing the key characteristics of the volunteer-run groups and other new types of job clubs being offered across a range of communities;

(2) documenting how they differ from and are similar to the job clubs operated by publicly-funded workforce agencies (such as the American Job Centers); and

(3) identifying promising practices that might warrant more rigorous formal evaluation of individual impacts and effectiveness.