Escalating Gains: Project QUEST’s Sectoral Strategy Pays Off
Mark Elliott and Anne Roder
Project QUEST was founded in 1992 to enable San Antonio residents to prepare for good jobs in growing sectors of the local economy. Over the past 25 years, it has helped more than 6,000 people complete training conducted primarily by local community colleges. Mobility’s random control trial evaluation found:
- Large, statistically-significant earnings impacts over the six-year follow-up period. The earnings gains grew over time, exceeding $5,000 in the sixth year.
- QUEST participants worked more consistently and earned higher hourly wages than people in the control group.
- Program participants’ earnings grew from an average of $11,670 to $28,204 over the course of the evaluation. Program completers earned an average of $38,113 in the final year of the study.
- 96 percent of QUEST participants were still living in Texas and 85 percent remained in the San Antonio area six years after enrollment.
The findings are among the most impressive of any rigorous evaluation of a workforce development program and are a strong endorsement of the potential value of long-term skills training for low-income job seekers.