Reviews recent trends in employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth, focusing specifically on those who have become “disconnected” from school and the labor market, and why these trends have occurred.
“In this paper, [the authors] briefly review recent trends in employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth, focusing specifically on those who have become ‘disconnected’ from school and the labor market, and why these trends have occurred. [The authors] then review a range of policy prescriptions that might improve those outcomes. These policies include: (1) Efforts to enhance education and employment outcomes, both among in-school youth who are at risk of dropping out and becoming disconnected as well as out-of-school youth who have already done so; (2) Policies to increase earnings and incent more labor force participation among youth, such as expanding the eligibility of childless adults (and especially non-custodial parents) for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); and (3) Specific policies to reduce barriers to employment faced by ex-offenders and non-custodial parents (NCPs). We also consider policies that target the demand side of the labor market, in efforts to spur the willingness of employers to hire these young people and perhaps to improve the quality of jobs available to them” (abstract). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

• “While the overall evaluation evidence on employment and training programs has been mixed at best, [the authors] also believe that programs and curricula that offer a combination of skill development and paid work experience have often shown the strongest results at improving employment outcomes for these youth” (p.14-15). • “For in-school youth, perhaps the strongest evidence on effective combinations of education and work experience for youth appears in the recent random assignment evaluation of Career Academies” (p.15). • “For youth who are out of school, the sectoral training program Year Up offers similar evidence of how skill development and paid work experience can improve youth outcomes” (p.16). • “Among programs that seek to improve the attainment of high school diplomas among young dropouts, the National Guard ChalleNGe program stands out” (p.16). • “Out-of-school youth can also benefit from training and paid work experience in a residential setting. For instance, the latest evidence on the Job Corps shows some evidence of fadeout of early gains, but the program remains cost-effective for older youth (i.e., those aged 20–24)….These programs are based on the view, widely held among practitioners, that paid work motivates young people to remain in programs and also generates opportunities for ‘contextual learning’ that are not often available in the classroom” (p.17). • “Some evidence exists that the kinds of supports provided in the Opening Doors demonstration can improve community college performance and persistence” (p.18). (Abstractor: Author)