The impact evaluation of Job Corps was based on a nationally representative sample of eligible applicants at the 105 Job Corps centers in the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia that were in operation during the study’s sample intake period.
The study sample was drawn from the 80,883 youth who applied to Job Corps nationwide between November 1994 and December 1995 and were found to be eligible for the program by the end of February 1996. From the 80,883 eligible applicants, 9,409 were randomly assigned to the program group that could participate in Job Corps, and 5,977 were randomly assigned to the control group that could not. The remaining 65,497 were assigned to a nonresearch group that was allowed to enroll in Job Corps.
To be eligible for Job Corps, an applicant must meet the following six criteria: (1) be between 16 and 24 years old, (2) be a U.S. citizen or legal resident, (3) be economically disadvantaged, (4) be from a home environment in which the youth cannot benefit from other training programs, (5) be in good health, and (6) be able to conform to Job Corps standards of conduct.
About 60% of eligible applicants were male, and more than 70% were younger than 20 years old. Half were African-American and about one in five were Hispanic. At program entry, 77% did not have a high school credential. On average, sample members had completed 10.1 years of education. Nearly 60% received some form of public assistance during the year prior to random assignment.
Effects were estimated at three points in time: 12 months, 30 months, and 48 months following random assignment. Estimates based on the 48-month follow-up were used for WWC effectiveness ratings. The analysis sample at the 48-month follow-up consisted of 11,313 young adults (6,828 program group members and 4,485 control group members). This sample represents 73% of the original program group sample and 75% of the original control group sample. The study authors used sample weights to adjust their results for survey nonresponse when estimating program impacts.
Job Corps is a federally funded education and vocational training program for disadvantaged youth administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Most Job Corps applicants are recruited through the program’s outreach and recruiting network; others apply directly. The program’s core services—academic instruction, vocational training, and residential living services—are provided through one of the more than one hundred Job Corps centers nationwide. Job Corps is a self-paced program, so the length of time in the program varies considerably across participants. Among study sample members who enrolled in Job Corps, 28% participated for less than three months, while 25%
participated for more than a year (Schochet et al., 2001). On average, Job Corps enrollees spent about eight months in the program and received 1,140 hours of academic and vocational instruction.
During their first weeks in Job Corps, participants are assessed to determine their skills and interests. Based on this assessment, participants receive an individualized mix of vocational and academic instruction. Job Corps’ education services include remedial education that emphasizes reading and math skills, GED preparation, consumer education, driver’s education, home and family living training, and health education. The program’s vocational curricula emphasize the skills necessary to work in specific trades. This training prepares students for work as carpenters, masons, welders, electricians, mechanics, food and health service workers, and other professions. The vocational training available varies across Job Corps centers. A typical center offers specialized training for about 10 trades. Upon completion of their education and training, Job Corps
provides its participants with job placement assistance. Placement services help students refine their interview and resume writing skills and identify job opportunities.
Residential living services are a distinctive feature of Job Corps. Resident participants are housed in dormitories at the Job Corps center. In addition to room and board, these participants are offered counseling, health services, social-skills training, recreational activities, and a biweekly living allowance. Some centers offer a nonresidential version of the program in which participants receive all Job Corps services and supports but do not reside at the center.
Some who were randomly assigned to Job Corps did not enroll in the program. Among those in the Job Corps group, 73% reported enrolling in Job Corps within 48 months. Three quarters of enrollees did so within a month of random assignment (Schochet et al., 2001).
Among Job Corps enrollees, 82% received academic instruction, and 89% received vocational training. Many participants not receiving academic instruction through Job Corps entered the program with a high school diploma or GED certificate and focused their time in Job Corps on vocational training.
Control group members were restricted from entering Job Corps for the first three years after random assignment. Even so, a small portion of control group youth (about 1%) did enroll in Job Corps during this period. When the restriction on enrolling in Job Corps was lifted, an additional 3% of control group youth enrolled in the program.
Although control group youth were not allowed to enroll in Job Corps, they were free to participate in other programs available in the community. According to study authors, 72% of control group youth participated in an education or training program during the 48-month study follow-up period, compared with 93% of Job Corps youth. On average, Job Corps youth spent almost twice as much time in education and training during the study period than those in the control group—an average of 1,581 hours compared with 853 hours for the control group (Schochet et al., 2001)
Two relevant outcomes from the Job Corps study are included in this summary: years of school completed and receipt of a high school diploma or GED certificate. (For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendices A2.1 and A2.2.) The Job Corps study also estimated impacts on employment and earnings and nonlabor market outcomes. The nonlabor market outcomes include welfare, crime, alcohol and illegal drug use, health, family formation, and mobility. These outcomes are not included in this report because they do not fall within the three domains (staying in school, progressing in school, and completing school) examined by the WWC’s review of dropout prevention interventions.
Support for implementation
The study did not provide specific information concerning staff training.