Looking to the Future: Job Corps External Review

2016-2017
Prepared for
U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Chief Evaluation Office
adult training teens as electricians

This study is looking at structural and service delivery changes to enhance Job Corps, the nation's largest and most comprehensive residential education and job training program for at-risk youth ages 16 through 24. The review builds on prior rigorous research demonstrating that Job Corps has promise, including Mathematica’s National Job Corps Study, which found that the program increases educational attainment, reduces criminal activity, and increases earnings for several postprogram years. However, the impacts on earnings also diminish over time, particularly for younger Corps members. In addition, the cost-benefit analysis found that, overall, program costs were greater than the benefits, although the program was cost-effective for older participants.

Over the past several years the U.S. Department of Labor has worked to improve Job Corps, with the goal of better serving youth. This project is looking at the research on Job Corps as well as youth development, public management, and related strategies to identify promising directions for program structure and organization in the future. The team is determining where and how to best build on this research and lessons from the field, both within and outside of Job Corps. We are also recommending research questions and design options, as well as promising models or programs that could be implemented or tested through pilots or demos.

Key project activities include (1) documenting what is known about Job Corps and what we know from other fields about serving youth, (2) soliciting expert opinion, (3) analyzing Job Corps administrative program data, and (4) reporting on opportunities to strengthen Job Corps and conduct additional research. Decision Information Resources is a subcontractor.