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Evidence-based Practice: Youth workforce development programs


Workforce development programs for disconnected youth can have positive effects on their education, employment, and earnings outcomes, although the evidence is mixed on which types of programs are most effective. Examples of effective programs include the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program, which offers a six-month residential program for youth who have dropped out of high school, followed by placement in employment, education, or the military and a year of structured mentoring. Experimental research found that the program increased educational attainment, employment, and earnings three years after enrollment.  Another example is Youth Corps, which offers youth a stipend along with educational supports, employment and training, and community service activities, and led to higher earnings (a more than $1,200 per year increase) for youth 18 months after enrollment; however, it had no impacts on employment or education, and the program was not equally effective in all participating sites. Internship programs for youth and young adults also have shown encouraging findings. A study of the Young Adult Internship Program (now known as Intern & Earn), which offers disconnected youth a 10- to 12-week paid internship, along with job readiness workshops and individualized supports, found that the program increased earnings for participants a year after completing their internship. YearUp—which offers six months of intensive training followed by paid six-month internships in the fields of information technology and financial operations to youth from low-income households—improved earnings measured three years after participation (though not after four years). There are also examples of programs that have not yielded consistent benefits for participants; for example, evidence on summer job programs for youth is mixed. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) recommends that youth programs include multiple elements, including education and other supportive services, work experience, occupational skills training, mentoring, leadership development opportunities, and follow-up support.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

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