Alternative Staffing Organizations (ASOs) are social-purpose businesses created by community-based organizations and national nonprofits to “broker up” job seekers, starting with temporary assignments and forming bridges to better jobs. Funded by the C. S. Mott Foundation, the Alternative Staffing Demonstration examined four ASOs around the country for a three-year research project, with 18 months of close monitoring, exploring, and assessing the ASO model. The Center for Social Policy studied how ASOs structure the services they provide, handle day-to-day management issues, and sell their services. We found the ASO model was variously adapted to generate short-term employment, build work experience, provide a step to better employment, and/or overcome the effects of discrimination. ASO temp jobs paid higher than the minimum wage, and clerical jobs comprised the majority of assignments in three sites while blue-collar jobs dominated in the fourth. Workers valued getting detailed job information and receiving ASO staff support on their assignments. ASOs sell staffing services to customer businesses by emphasizing their service quality and efficiency; some do so by promoting their social mission. Customer businesses use ASO services to screen potential hires and to fill entry-level positions. They value the ASO knowledge of worker strengths and limitations. Revenue generated by a markup on assignments, charged to the businesses, pays for administrative costs of the job-brokering function, stretching grant resources to cover support services across a larger group of workers.
Carré, Françoise; Holgate, Brandynn; Levine, Helen; and Kala, Mandira, "Brokering Up: The Role of Temporary Staffing in Overcoming Labor Market Barriers" (2009). Center for Social Policy Publications. Paper 8.