Effects of Summer Youth Work Programs on Income and Employment Rates

Programs to encourage labor market activity amongst youth have shown positive outcomes in their ability to obtain a range of marketable job skills, gross improvement in self-esteem and overall mental health, as well as an increased likelihood to obtain career level employment upon completion of high school or college. This paper explores the barriers to employment that youth from disadvantaged backgrounds face, as well as the resources and support that work readiness programs offer in addition to job placement. The research looked to specifically evaluate overall effectiveness and success of youth work programs by identifying whether or not earnings for participants out ranked earnings for non-participants; Whether or not youth participants were more likely to go to college than their non-participant peers; and lastly evaluating if the experiences and skills obtained were in fact transferable in to career level high wage job opportunities. The research overall showed that youth participants of summer work programs had an increase in confidence and overall satisfaction with life, decreased involvement in gang and drug related activity, as well as an increased likelihood to succeed post program in real world workplace environments. The primary gap in the research lies in not being able to compare the data and earnings of participants to non participants. This gap exists as much of the research does not follow students beyond their time in the program, so there is no clear case to make as to whether those involved in these specialized programs fair better than their counterparts who do not participate.