Analyzing Employment Outcomes of VCCS Graduates

Leveraging nearly a decade of employment and enrollment data, we’re partnering with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to examine and understand the wage and non-wage employment outcomes of their graduates, and to assess how we might improve on these post-graduation outcomes through targeted intervention.


The Problem

  • Community college degrees generate a valuable economic return, but what and where you study matters. Similarly, analyses show earnings return gaps between important student subgroups like men and women.
  • We lack a clear understanding of whether or not students experience non-wage benefits to community college degrees, and whether there is substantial variation in these non-wage benefits between programs, institutions, and student sub-groups.

What are the wage and non-wage outcomes of community college degrees, and how might we improve them through targeted interventions?


Deep Dive into the Data

  • Drawing on individual-level, linked higher education-workforce data, we analyzed a broad set of labor market metrics such as employability and employment stability.
  • We also examined whether these broad labor market metrics vary by college-by-program combinations and demographic subgroups, as well as examined correlations in short-term employment outcomes with long-term wage gains.


The Innovation

  • We’re in the process of developing additional metrics of interest for evaluation.
  • Once we complete our expanded descriptive analyses, we will investigate the impacts of these students’ community college degrees on their outcomes, the role of labor market dynamics in their outcomes, and opportunities to improve on their outcomes through targeted intervention.


The Results

Though we’re still in the early stages of this work, our initial results are promising, and we have already planned several expansions to the scope of the project.


The Project Team

Ben Castleman, Founder and Director, Nudge4
Catherine Finnegan,
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Institutional Effectiveness

Kelli Bird,
Research Director

Brian Kim,
PhD Student


Catherine Finnegan,
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Institutional Effectiveness, Virginia Community College Systems

Sara Dunnigan,
Director of Labor Market Research & Strategic Partnerships, Virginia Community College Systems

Our Funders