Evaluation of the Jobs to Careers Program

Jennifer Craft Morgan, PhD, currently of Georgia State University, led the evaluation of the program while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute on Aging.

About the Program

Jobs to Careers: Promoting Work-Based Learning for Quality Care is an initiative that seeks to advance and reward the skill and career development of low-wage incumbent workers providing care and services on the front lines of our health and health care systems. The project is a $15.8-million national initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), in collaboration with The Hitachi Foundation and the Department of Labor.

Jobs to Careers supports partnerships of employers, educational institutions and other organizations in 17 demonstration sites to create lasting improvements in the quality of care provided to patients by frontline workers (FLW). The Jobs to Careers program targeted systems that train, develop, and advance frontline health and health care workers and tested new models of work-based learning.

About the Evaluation

The goal of this evaluation is to provide information about the process of developing work-based learning systems; to gain information about the elements of success in learning partnerships; and to articulate the successes and challenges of the Jobs to Careers program in achieving its objectives.

Specific objectives the evaluation team measured include:

  • Effective methods for developing and implementing work-based learning systems;
  • Individual outcomes for FLWs participating in the program;
  • Systems changes achieved at the partnership level and within the participating employer and educational institutions;
  • The business case for investing in FLW programs for learning and career advancement.

Summary of Methods

The evaluation team used multiple methods of data collection to gain information at each level of activity: community environment, educational and provider institutions, partnership and individual frontline workers. These techniques include site visits, and the Jobs to Careers database, which includes information about participants enrolled in partnership projects.

Knowledge and Impact

The Jobs to Careers demonstration sites incorporated workplace-based learning into their environments by adopting the following strategies:

  • Embedding the curriculum into the work process. The curriculum often had to be modified at demonstration sites to ensure lessons were relevant to employer needs, and applicable to the tasks and responsibilities of the job position.
  • Embedding learning into the work process. Many demonstration sites offered classes on site, paid participating workers for educational release time, and included job shadowing in the training program. Participants were also encouraged to connect experiences from work with discussions in the classroom.
  • Embedding assessment into the work process. In some demonstration sites, preceptors (nurses, supervisors, or other skilled staff) formally evaluated participants, in addition to educational instructors. Some assignments were directly related to participant’s current jobs.
  • Incorporating coworker/instructor involvement. Project directors solicited nurses, other professional staff, administrative staff, experienced FLWs, and direct supervisors to act as coaches, mentors, and preceptors for program participants.

Outcomes for individuals participating in Jobs to Careers demonstration sites included:

  • Education and career advancement: 40 percent of participants originally enrolled in the Jobs to Careers training were still active participants at the end of the grant period. Of those participants who completed the program, 67 percent received wage increases and 71 percent acquired a certification. The average wage increase for all participants was $0.58; for those who completed the program, the average wage increase was $2.10. There was a 17 percent attrition rate for those who didn’t complete the program, and a 30 percent turnover rate.
  • Education and career mapping: 60 percent of participants received career plans and education plans to help develop goals and concrete steps to achieve them. Workers were able to express clear career objectives, and paths for career advancement.
  • Social psychological benefits: Participants reported increased social support from coworkers and supervisors; increased self-confidence; increased sense of value and importance to the health care team; and increased knowledge and skills.

Systems changes achieved at the partnership level and within employer and educational institutions included:

  • Partnerships: many new partnerships between employers and educational institutions were formed as a result of the Jobs to Careers program. Partnerships between health and health care institutions and community colleges were seen as particularly valuable, with many continuing past the life of the grant.
  • Workforce intermediaries: the experience of participants in demonstration sites has broadened the perspective of what is possible for workforce development. Workforce intermediaries in the Jobs to Careers program created new strategies that trained incumbent workers in addition to displaced workers. This strategy has the potential to improve worker job quality and create new employment opportunities for new entrants. The Jobs to Careers program established models for workforce development that are applicable in a variety of occupations and environments.
  • Employers: employers supported career advancement by revising their human resources policies and practices to support additional education; by embedding career advancement in the organizational culture; and by revising the work process to accommodate education, training, and career advancement at work.
  • Educational Partners: educational partners showed success in supporting work-based learning by awarding credit for activities conducted outside the classroom and adapting many traditional elements of the curriculum and course design to accommodate work-based learning.

The following elements of the Jobs to Careers program lay out the business case for investing FLW programs:

  • Employer partners benefitted due to increased quality of care; increased retention rates, improved recruitment, and increased organizational commitment; revenue generation and increased productivity; and by meeting the needs of the community.
  • Educational partners benefitted by tailoring their educational programs to meet the needs of local employees, employers, and the community, and by gaining access to new students and new faculty that enrich the college. Participants in the Jobs to Careers programs showed higher completion rates, and reduced time-to-completion for certifications.


Many participating program sites will continue using strategies developed by the Jobs to Careers program to train, support, and advance FLWs. Many of the partnerships between employers and academic institutions will remain in place, to further the participating site’s commitment to work-based learning.

Related Research & Evaluations

Frontline Worker Survey

This evaluation brief explores the impact of the Jobs to Careers program on frontline workers (FLWs) employed by participating health care organizations.

Read the brief

Preliminary Results for Educational Institutions

This evaluation brief presents the preliminary findings of the Jobs to Careers program that have specific relevance to educational institutions.

Read the brief

Preliminary Results for Healthcare Employers

This evaluation brief explores the impact of the Jobs to Careers program on frontline workers (FLWs) employed by participating health care organizations

Read the brief

Implementing Complex Innovation: Factors Influencing Middle Manager Support

This article examines the role of middle management in facilitating or hindering the implementation of complex changes in health care organizations, using interviews in Jobs to Careers program sites.

Read the article