Improving the Outcomes of Youth with Medical Limitations Through Comprehensive Training and Employment Services: Evidence from the National Job Corps Study
- Economically disadvantaged youth with medical limitations (YMLs) have poorer adult labor market outcomes than their peers, and improving those outcomes is a state and national policy goal.
- Job Corps offers comprehensive education, job training, and job placement services to economically disadvantaged youth. Although not originally designed for youth with disabilities, the Job Corps program serves many such youth, and it could potentially serve more.
- Using data from a 1990s evaluation, we found that Job Corps participation resulted in larger improvements in the earnings of YMLs during the four-year period after enrollment than for other participants. It also reduced receipt of disability benefits by YMLs during that period.
- Although more research is warranted, our findings suggest the Job Corps program could be used to substantially improve the work outcomes of more transition-age youth with disabilities.
We use data from a randomized evaluation of the Job Corps program to understand its impacts for youth with limitations from medical conditions. Job Corps was originally designed for economically disadvantaged youth facing education or employment barriers due to their community living environment. The program provides all enrollees with an integrated package of work-focused supports including general education, vocational training, soft skills development, and ultimately job placement. Our findings provide new information about the program’s impacts for approximately 470 youth with medical limitations (YMLs) included in the 1990s National Job Corps Study. Although YMLs were at greater risk for adverse outcomes relative to other enrollees, the impacts of Job Corps for this group have not been previously assessed. We find positive, large, and significant impacts per participant on self-reported employment and earnings; further, the program significantly reduced their dependence on long-term disability benefits. These estimated per-participant impacts were at least twice the size of the corresponding impacts for other youths who did not have medical limitations at enrollment. Although more research on current program operations is needed, our findings suggest that Job Corps could help meet state and national policy goals for improving adult work outcomes for youth with disabilities and reducing their reliance on disability benefits.