Career training provides significant financial benefits

Recent study shows career training could significantly boost earnings and cut social service costs.

A study by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER)—a research entity of the Labovitz School at the University of Minnesota Duluth—examined the economic benefits from career training and found that providing low income individuals with skills necessary to advance in their career could provide significant returns on investment, as measured by increased earnings for the individual as well as savings for government social service programs.

The study, conducted in partnership with True North Goodwill and the Duluth Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), estimated the financial benefits for a low-income single parent adult with an infant in two career scenarios—a full-time career as a construction laborer and a full-time career as a registered nurse—and compared them with a part-time, minimum wage job as a cashier. 

Study results found that over the course of 35 years—ages 30 to 65—the person working as a construction laborer or a registered nurse could earn a total of roughly $1.5 million and $1.9 million in after-tax income, respectively, whereas the person working as a part-time cashier could earn a total of roughly $460,000. 

For both career scenarios, state and federal government programs could save more than $600,000 in public assistance benefits over the course of the 35 years, as compared to the person working as a part-time cashier who would need more assistance. 

“This research shows the incredible return on investment and financial impacts that career training programs like our Community Construction Program can have,” said Jill Keppers, executive director of the Duluth HRA. “The benefits extend well beyond just the students who complete the program.”  

“This data reinforces what we’ve known all along: Empowering workers with occupational skills training and opening pathways for career advancement benefits us all in the long run,” said Dodie Brown, president and CEO of True North Goodwill

The report, “Measuring the Impacts of Career Training on the Economy: A Case Study from St. Louis County, Minnesota” can be found on the University of Minnesota’s Digital Conservancy website. A visual summary of the results has also been designed.