Career Center Blog

November 26, 2013

Study: WorkSource workshops pay off


As someone who has dipped in and out of the salaried workforce several times during the Great Recession, I've come to know the quirks of WorkSource, the job-resource site funded by the state's Employment Security Department (ESD) and several other state and local nonprofit organizations.

As I've written before, WorkSource has always seemed a bit behind the times. But a new study by the ESD's Labor Market and Economic Analysis division cautions against dismissing the utility of WorkSource's workshops.

According to the latest WorkSource Net Impact Study, which tracked about 9,000 unemployment insurance recipients over a 21-month period between late 2007 and mid-2009, WorkSource clients were more likely to have found work after six months than those in the control group.

As a result of finding a job more quickly, the WorkSource clients earned an average of $1,980 more than job seekers who did not take part in WorkSource's job-search assistance programs, the report found. During the final 12 months of the study, the average earnings difference was $2,085 over the course of the study.

About half of the people surveyed took part in WorkSource services -- loosely defined as skills assessments, job referrals, hiring events, resume assistance, internet access for job searches, interviewing workshops and use of computer equipment -- during the first six months of their unemployment, while the other half did not.

In addition, the study found that the federal dollars spent on WorkSource over those 21 months were paid back handsomely in terms of higher wages for workers and increased productivity, which the researchers termed "social return on investment." By assuming that the costs to run WorkSource programs ranged from $100 to $500 per client, the report calculated an overall social ROI of 14-23 percent. Women, the study added, benefited even more from WorkSource programs; the social ROI for them was 16-34 percent, compared with 12-18 percent for men.

I've always had better luck relying on leads and recommendations from the helpful folks in my own carefully crafted network than through WorkSource's seminars and workshops. But, as these figures suggest, it might be a good idea to set aside some time in your job search and take some WorkSource courses on cover letters, interviewing or networking skills. It could pay off nicely (and more quickly) in the end.

Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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