TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT
March 9, 2005
||ALL STATE WORKFORCE AGENCIES
ALL STATE WORKFORCE LIAISONS
||MARIA K. FLYNN
Office of Policy Development and Research
||Release and Availability of ETA Occasional Paper 2005-02: "The Effects of
Customer Choice: First Findings from the Individual Training Account Experiment"
- Purpose. To announce the release and availability of the ETA Occasional Paper
2005-02: "The Effects of Customer Choice: First Findings from the Individual Training Account (ITA): Experiment."
- Background. The Workforce Investment Act provides a great deal of flexibility to states and
local areas in the area of training for employment, including (1) setting the monetary value and
other parameters of individual training accounts (ITAs), and (2) deciding how much guidance
One-Stop counselors will provide to customers in the formulation of training decisions. This
paper describes the early findings of an experiment on the use of ITA's in the One-Stop system.
The ITA Experiment was designed to explore how different counseling approaches affect
customer choices. It also shows how the varied approaches generate different training outcomes,
including employment and earnings outcomes and, most importantly, customer satisfaction.
A summary of the key findings from the ITA Experiment include:
- Counselors tended to be reluctant in being direct with their counseling and instead
generally deferred to customer preferences.
- Customers rarely requested counseling when it is made voluntary.
- Participation in required counseling activities discouraged participation in ETA-funded
- Customers were most likely to select training at a private school but some were
significantly more likely than others to choose a technical or community college.
- Occupations that customers chose across each approach were remarkably similar.
- Publication Description. This interim report explains the three approaches being tested in the
eight sites and how they were used. The findings on the implementation of each ITA approach
are explained. Estimates of the relative impacts of each approach on the receipt of counseling,
training choices, and costs of WIA training are provided. The relative impacts on final
outcomes—employment, earnings, and customer satisfaction-will be presented in the final
The approaches tested in this experiment include:
Based on these intermediate outcomes, the researchers' analyses suggest that the ITA approaches
(as implemented) influenced customers' receipt of counseling and their likelihood of receiving an
ITA. However, the approaches do not appear to have had a large impact on customers' training
choices. Impacts will not be known until the final report is completed. From that report, data
will be used from a survey of the study participants and state administrative data to answer
questions about how customers fared after receiving their ITAs or choosing to forgo ITA-funded
training. Findings from the final report will assist policymakers in local workforce investment
areas with more definitive evidence about the best approach or approaches to administering
- Approach 1 (Structured Customer Choice). Counselors were to steer customers to high
return training, and to deny other training choices. Although the structured customer
choice is the most directive of the three approaches, it was not always implemented in
practice. Counselors were reluctant to be directive in their counseling and tended to defer
to customer preferences. Counselors failed to steer these customers to high-return
training, (long-term cmployiient and higher incomes) and were reluctant to deny training
to customers. This was true in all eight sites: Phoenix, AZ; Maricopa County, AZ;
Bridgeport, CT; Jacksonville, FL; Atlanta, GA; Northeast Region, GA; North Cook
County, IL; and Charlotte, NC; for both dislocated worker and adult customers.
- Approach 2 (Guided Customer Choice). The guided customer approach is one that was
implemented as planned at all sites. This approach is the most similar to the one used
before the experiment in all sites and was the one counselors felt most comfortable
implementing. This would be the easiest approach for the other sites to adopt. All
demonstration sites adopted this approach; mandatory counseling but less intensive than
under Approach 1. Counselors cannot reject customers' choices if the provider selected
is on the eligible training provider list (ETP). Customers receive a fixed ITA award.
- Approach 3 (Maximum Customer Choice). Customers have voluntary access to
counseling but are not required to participate in any activities. Counselors in all sites
adhered to the requirements, that is, to offer help to customers but to provide assistance
only when the customers requested it. Customers received a fixed ITA award, equal to
the award under Approach 2, and could choose any program on the ETP list.
To view an abstract of this publication as well as to download the full report as a PDF, visit the
ETA Occasional Paper series Web site at: http://www.doleta.gov/reports/searcheta/occ/
EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING ADMINISTRATION
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Washington, DC 20210