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Evaluating Year Up’s Programs for Young Adults


  • Millions of young adults face limited economic opportunities.
  • Abt is evaluating Year Up’s original and next-generation programs.
  • Year Up’s original program generated large, sustained increases in earnings.
The Challenge

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. Helping low-skilled young adults access training that can increase earnings and meet employers’ pressing workforce needs is a critical goal for policymakers, training providers, and employers.

The Approach

Abt is evaluating successive generations of Year Up—a national program for young adults aged 18-24 with high school credentials. The full-time program provides six months of technical training and supports followed by six-month internships with major firms. For the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study, Abt is evaluating Year Up’s original program via a large randomized controlled trial (RCT). In related work, Abt is studying newer Year Up approaches such as the college-based Professional Training Corps (PTC).

The Results

The newest findings from PACE show that Year Up sustained large increases in average annual earnings over a seven-year follow-up period. The gains reached $8,251 (30 percent) in the seventh year. And the cost-benefit analysis showed that society received $2.46 in net benefits for every dollar spent on Year Up. Large positive earnings impacts occurred in nearly all subgroups and local offices, although magnitudes varied. The COVID-19 pandemic had somewhat less detrimental economic effects for young adults in the randomly assigned treatment (Year Up) group than for their control group counterparts.

Findings on Next Generation Programs

Our studies of Year Up’s next-generation programs have involved developing evidence-based improvements to the Professional Training Corps. For example, working with local staff, we tested an enhanced coaching approach to address academic difficulties in college. Using an embedded RCT, we found that coaching increased program retention by 10 percentage points.

For more, see:

New and Noteworthy

Released in 2021

Earlier reports on Year Up’s original program

Findings on the Professional Training Corps