Piotr is 48 years old and has been working for the past two years at a car rim factory in the south of Poland, near the Ukraine border. The work is quite hard, he says, but at least it’s stable – the factory is doing well, receiving orders from all over Europe.
Piotr is originally a mechanic by trade. When unemployed three years ago, he took a short vocational training for forklift operation organized by his local labor office. After a few months, he got a job at the factory where he still works now.
But how instrumental was the labor office in helping Piotr return to the job market? Perhaps it was due more to his personal connections, his own determination, or an improving overall economy? It’s hard to say without some concrete evidence.
A rigorous impact evaluation approach can help us do just that: parsing out the effect of the course from all the other possible factors that could have led him to get this log. Impact evaluation can determine if people who avail of public support, such as Piotr, do better in the jobs market than those who don’t use assistance.
Counterfactuals, random assignment, power calculations are terms we don’t hear every day. However, they exist in the glossary of tools used by public administrations across Europe. They are nevertheless, practically unknown today in Poland.
The Polish government is determined to change this, and consequently asked the World Bank to have a series of trainings and technical assistance for regional and local labor offices. The first of these trainings took place in Gdańsk, the capital city of Pomorskie region in February 2017.