Panel Paper: Opportunities for Youth: Innovative Approaches for Improving Employment Outcomes Among Disconnected Youth

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 10:25 AM
West End Ballroom D (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Heather Koball, Urban Institute, Michael Pergamit, The Urban Institute and Elizabeth Weigensberg, University of Chicago
There are approximately 6.7 million disconnected youth, ages 16-24, who are not employed and are not in school in the United States. Disconnected youth face many risks in the transition to adulthood, including increased likelihood of being incarcerated, lacking educational credentials, having children outside of marriage, and having difficulty maintaining well-paid employment.  This paper describes the Opportunities for Youth project, a design of a major new demonstration, being initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), to evaluate innovative approaches to improve the employment outcomes of disconnected youth and youth at risk of disconnection.

The Urban Institute, and its partners— Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, NORC at the University of Chicago, the Capital Research Corporation, and George Washington University—have been working with pilot site partners to develop the demonstration.  During the first year, the pilot sites are collaborating to help determine what should be tested in the full demonstration, and once the pilot is completed, a larger demonstration evaluation may be implemented with special funding.

This presentation will describe efforts of the pilot sites to help identify strategies or models to be tested and to help to develop data systems and evaluation measures for the demonstration. Some possibilities for the types of strategies that  might eventually be tested could include sector/industry-based training that connects youth to occupations that are growing; a mix of school and wage-paying work; the provision of comprehensive wrap around services; or coaching models. DOL has a particular interest in effective strategies for disconnected young women because of the unique employment barriers they often face.

This presentation will also describe the results of the study team’s work with the pilot sites to develop outcome measures and measures of change for the evaluation, determine the usefulness and availability of administrative data for the evaluation, determine procedures that would be used in implementing random assignment in the demonstration, and develop a system for tracking the services received and the outcomes of youth who participate in the program. The design phase of this project began in July 2012 and the final design report for the full demonstration will be issued in 2015.