In May, @OPRE_ACF and @abtassociates published new findings of a large RCT of @YearUp - a job training program for low-income young adults that focuses on fast-growing economic sectors. Quick take: High-quality RCT with blockbuster results: Long-term earnings gains of 30%, or $8000/year (continued below).

Program:

  • Year Up is a full-time, year-long workforce training program for economically-disadvantaged young adults that focuses on economic sectors with jobs in high demand—namely, information technology and financial services. The program cost  is about $28,290/participant, most of which ($16,700, or 59%) is borne by employers.

Study Design:

  • The RCT sample comprised 2,544 young adults ages 18-24  in 8 US cities, with a high school diploma or equivalent. 54% were Black, 31% were Hispanic, 59% were male, & almost all came from low-income families (average family income $27,000/yr).

Findings:

  • The main study findings are shown in the above graph. In the longest follow-up — year 7 after study entry — Year Up produced a statistically significant 30% ($8,251) increase in average annual earnings, vs the control group.

  • These effects showed no sign of diminishing over time. They were also sizable in virtually all study sites and subgroups examined (e.g., gender, race), showing that the effects generalize broadly across settings and subpopulations.

Comment:

  • I believe this is one of the most important findings in history of social policy, where surprisingly few programs are found to produce the hoped-for effects when rigorously evaluated.

  • Here’s a more detailed evidence summary, and here’s the latest study report. One consideration in interpreting the results: Year Up carefully screens applicants and enrolls those identified as being motivated to succeed & interested in career advancement. The effects may not apply to individuals who fall outside such criteria.

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