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Still Bridging the Opportunity Divide for Low-Income Youth: Year Up’s Longer-Term Impacts

David Fein, Samuel Dastrup, and Kimberly Burnett, Abt Global


May 5, 2021

Prospects for young adults without postsecondary credentials have steadily worsened in recent decades. With few chances at well-paying jobs, millions give up on school and withdraw from the labor force. Training low-skilled young adults for good entry-level jobs in growing fields is a critical goal for policymakers, training providers, and employers.

Under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study, the Abt team evaluated Year Up, a national training program for adults 18-24. Year Up provides six months of technical training followed by a six-month internship in information technology or finance jobs, and participants receive weekly stipends. An implementation study examined the program’s design, operation, and student participation patterns. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) impact study measured effects on employment and educational outcomes for a national sample of 2,544 young adults. Students assigned to the study’s treatment group could access Year Up training and internships; control group members were not allowed to enroll in Year Up.

Treatment group members averaged nearly $8,000 (33 percent) more in annual earnings than control group members in the last of the five years analyzed--among the largest reported in an RCT for such programs. Year Up generated $1.66 in net benefits for every dollar spent. The program increased the percentages of young adults working in information technology and finance services jobs.