Toward a Better Future: Evidence on Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Youth in the United States

This report from MDRC examines different programs and strategies to reduce the youth unemployment rate through education and training programs for in-school youth, out-of-school youth and college students. The analysis takes a demand-side approach to workforce development, identifying strategies that leverage private sector insights to meet labor market demand. 

The report first examines the driving forces behind youth unemployment and then provides a review of the evidence base for youth development programs, highlighting features of each program model, the cost effectiveness of each, and levels of employer engagement. The authors identify promising practices across each of the featured models: 

  1. Paid work experiences that allow youth to apply concepts and skills learned in a classroom
  2. Education and training focused on career pathways, not just job skills
  3. Strong employer involvement in devising education, training and work experiences that are relevant in the labor market
  4. Support services to address personal development and to mitigate life challenges
  5. Continued post-program support to ensure job retention and career mobility

MDRC's report is a critical resource to identify promising programs and evidence-based approaches to reduce the youth unemployment rate. 

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February 2015