Demonstrating Value of an Industry
Oftentimes an industry needs to interact with policymakers to present a rationale for its advocacy position. Armed with a clear picture of an industry helps influence the policymaking process by presenting quality data around which dialogue can be held. Dispelling misconceptions and incorrect perceptions based on unclear impacts and biased data is more than half the battle in presenting solutions. Choose policy advocacy research to meet your goals.
For a trade association to succeed, it needs to bring forward facts and subsequently use these facts to bring together stakeholders for sound policy solutions. The Alliance for International Exchange, a non-profit organization serving the community of international exchange organizations, faced attacks from several angles that could impact new regulations and potentially cut private exchanges.
To rise to the challenge, Alliance commissioned a series of assessments about several of the international visitor programs including Summer Work Travel, Intern & Trainee, Camp Counselors, and Au Pair. The first commissioned policy advocacy research projected is presented here as a case study.
Policy Advocacy Research Case Study
The Alliance for International Exchange commissioned EurekaFacts to conduct a comprehensive review of the Summer Work Travel (SWT) Program, one of the largest J-1 citizen exchange programs sponsored by the US Department of State and authorized under the Fulbright-Hayes Act of 1961. Administered by host organizations, SWT brings over 100,000 college students from around the world to experience American culture by living and working in the US during their summer break. Students work in seasonal jobs around the US primarily in small businesses with less than 50 employees.
The program was assessed from several perspectives:
- Documents review included previous research conducted by sponsor organizations, previous OIG reports, and a review of studies and opinions covered in the media.
- Econometric review examined the potential impacts of the program on local employment and local wages. Host locations, Department of Labor wages, and employment statistics were used to examine potential impacts.
- Surveys of a random sample of past participants (n=2,800) examined program impacts and contribution toward their career and opinions of the United States people and culture.
- Surveys of a random sample of participating employers (n=460) examined the contribution to the business in terms of work culture, interaction with customers, and meeting other business needs; the extent to which SWT participants supplemented or competed with the local workforce; and program satisfaction.
- Interviews with participating employers in locations with high concentrations of SWT participants explored other effects on their small businesses.
The overall data showed the impact on participating visitors, the employers, and the local communities. The data also illuminated the impact on perceptions of the US and its people and culture. Additionally, the data demonstrated the economic impact of the program both in aggregate and in the places where SWT participants were hosted in greater numbers.
The research helped policymakers, the industry, and the administration find common facts around which productive conversations were held, which has resulted in a more stable regulatory environment for the industry.
The research findings were cited in a 2018 Huffington Post article, and by bipartisan groups of Senators and Congress members in correspondence to Department of State Secretary Tillerson. The Summer Work Travel Program Review Report is available. Based on the research, the Americans for Cultural Exchange organization created an SWT heatmap showing the impact on US States.
With regard to client satisfaction, the Alliance commissioned EurekaFacts with the Intern & Trainee Exchange Program Review Report, the Camp Counselor Program Review Report, and the Au Pair Program Review Report Review Report in subsequent years.