Measuring workforce preparation and employment outcomes

By David Radwin, Laura Horn

As the nation's largest provider of postsecondary education, community colleges are instrumental to workforce development, but measuring student outcomes is challenging after students have left for the workplace. Many states use existing administrative data such as unemployment insurance records to calculate employment outcomes at minimal marginal cost, often disaggregated by field of study and award type, but they miss certain segments of the workforce and are significantly limited in the detail they can provide. Surveys cover individuals not included in administrative data and collect other important details, but they are expensive to administer and may not yield results that can be reliably disaggregated by field of study or award type. Ideally, community colleges would use both administrative record matching and surveys to provide a comprehensive measure of workforce preparation and employment success.


Radwin, D., & Horn, L. (2014). Measuring workforce preparation and employment outcomes. (RTI Press Publication No. PB-0005-1410). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


David RadwinDavid Radwin, a senior research associate in the Center for Postsecondary Education at RTI International, is the lead analyst for The Completion Arch™, a web-based resource that provides quick and easy access to national-, state-, and initiative-level data that describe the progress and success of community college students. He also contributes to data collection, processing, and analysis for multiple studies of postsecondary students, under contract to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) in the U.S. Department of Education.

Laura HornLaura J. Horn, MS, has conducted applied research and written extensively on postsecondary education issues for more than 25 years. She directs the Center for Postsecondary Education in RTI’s Education and Workforce Development division, where she oversees the research and analysis activities focused on postsecondary education in the United States. Under contract to the National Center for Education Statistics, Ms. Horn leads studies designed to inform federal policy on issues of access, completion, and financial aid. Over the last decade, she has built a research agenda focused on community college student success. Ms. Horn also leads RTI’s efforts to understand how personalized learning approaches through MOOCs and competency-based education can be used in postsecondary education to help prepare students for the workforce.

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