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Evaluating an Innovative Job Corps Pilot Program


  • The CCCA piloted a college-focused version of Job Corps.
  • The program connected students to workforce training and college courses.
  • CCCA increased time in education and training but didn’t increase credentials.
The Challenge

Abt Global and its partner, MDRC, evaluated a Job Corps pilot program, the Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy (CCCA), for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The Cascades pilot was an ambitious and evidence-based attempt to increase education and training for Job Corps students. The program recruited younger participants (16 to 21 years old), who have not typically benefited from Job Corps as much as older participants (21 to 24 years old). Innovations included longer stays in the Job Corps (up to three years), a focus on in-demand jobs in information technology and healthcare, a career pathways framework, and training in “soft” social and workplace skills.

The Approach

The evaluation used a rigorous random assignment design to test the effects of the new pilot program on service receipt as well as on participant outcomes, including educational attainment and credentials, employment, and earnings. The evaluation also includes an implementation study to document program operations, successes, and challenges. This important evaluation will allow policy makers and practitioners to gain important insights into the effectiveness of this innovative Job Corps pilot program.

The Results

CCCA increased total time in education and training and time in college, but had no detectable impact on attainment of credentials or degrees. Through 18 months after random assignment, the impact of the offer of CCCA on employment and earnings was negative because more time in Job Corps resulted in less time working. Positive impacts of Job Corps on employment or earnings would be more likely to occur after CCCA and any post–Job Corps time in community college are completed, likely at least three years after enrollment.

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