Federally funded education and job training programs for low-income youth. Since the Great Depression, the federal government has been funding programs that provide low-income, out-of-school, and unemployed youth with education, job training, and supportive services (Fernandes, 2011). Although the names of the programs have changed over time, as have the models on which they are based, their primary goal remains the same. Specifically, the programs are designed to address the multiple barriers to employment faced by these young people and put them on a path towards economic self-sufficiency. This article focuses on three of the largest and longest running education and job training programs for low-income, at-risk youth that the federal government currently funds: Job Corps, National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, and YouthBuild. Federal funding for these three programs, including some one-time funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, totaled more than $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2009: $1.9 billion for Job Corps, $92 million for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, and $119.5 million for YouthBuild (Government Accountability Office, 2011). The article begins by explaining why the need for these programs may be greater now than ever before. Next, each of the programs is described in some detail. Following these descriptions is a discussion of what is known about the impact of these programs on key youth outcomes. The article concludes with some observations about the similarities and differences among these programs, as well as some thoughts about the need for additional research. THE PRESSING NEED FOR FEDERALLY FUNDED EDUCATION AND JOB TRAINING PROGRAMS The need for federally funded education and job training programs for low-income, at-risk youth may be greater now than it has ever been. Economically disadvantaged young people with limited education and no work experience have considerably fewer opportunities for gainful employment today than they did just a few decades ago. In part, this reflects the growing demand for highly skilled workers and declining real wages for those who are less skilled. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
It also reflects the continuing impact of the most recent recession, which hit this population particularly hard (Sum, Khatiwada, & Palma, 2010). In April 2011, the unemployment rate was 7.6% for adults age 25 and older, 14.9% for 20- to 24-year-olds, and 24.9% for 16- to 19-year-olds (Bureau of Labor Statistic, 2011). Not only are young people much more likely to be unemployed than their older counterparts, but their employment rate has sharply declined over the past decade. In July 2010, just 48.9% of the civilian non-institutionalized population of 16- to 24-year-olds was employed compared with 64.8% in July 2000, and a peak of 69.2% in July 1989 (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). Importantly, although this decline in employment rate among the nation's youngest workers has cut across demographic groups defined by age, gender, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, household income, and geographic region, young people of color from low income families (incomes under $20,000) have been the most adversely affected (Sum, Khatiwada, McLaughlin, & Palma, 2008). Job Corps
Created by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Job Corps is a federally-funded, residential, education and job training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program serves approximately 60,000 young men and women every year. Currently, there are 124 Job Corps centers in both urban and rural communities throughout the U.S. Each of the 50 states is home to at least one center, as are the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Most centers are operated by private contractors; the contracts are awarded through a competitive bidding process. Others are operated by the Department of Agriculture or the Department of the Interior. Young people are typically assigned to the Job...
References: Bloom, D., Gardenhire-Crooks, A., & Mandsager. C. (2009). Reengaging High School Dropouts: Early Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program Evaluation. New York: MDRC.
Bloom, D., & Haskins, R
Bureau of Labor Statistic. (2011). The Employment Situation--April 2011, Table A-10. Washington, DC: Department of Labor. Available at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ pdf/empsit.pdf.
Chapman, C, Laird, J., & Kewal Ramani, A
Government Accountability Office. (2011). Multiple Employment and Training Programs: Providing Information on Colocating Services and Consolidating Administrative Structures Could Promote Efficiencies. Washington, DC: GAO.
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YouthBuild Coalition. (2011). National YouthBuild Coalition Facts: March 2011. Somerville, MA.
Youth Build USA
YouthBuild USA. (2006). YouthBuild VSA Rural Initiative Facts. Somerville, MA: YouthBuild USA.
(1) This is according to the annual accountability and performance reports for the years 2005 through 2009
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