[Excerpt] The employment levels for youth under age 25 have declined markedly in recent years, including in the wake of the recession that extended from December 2007 through June 2009. Certain young people in particular—including those from low-income families, high school dropouts, foster youth, and other at-risk populations—face barriers to completing school and entering the workforce. Since the 1960s, federal job training programs and policies have sought to connect these youth to education and employment pathways. Contemporary federal youth employment programs with this same purpose are authorized under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 (P.L. 105-220). These programs provide a range of services and supports to youth. They include the Youth Activities (Youth) formula grant program; Job Corps; YouthBuild; the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders program, which includes a youth component; and the Youth Opportunity Grant (YOG) program. Some of the programs concentrate on specific job trades and/or serve targeted at-risk populations. Based on funding, Job Corps and the Youth program are the largest.
This report provides an overview of federal employment programs for vulnerable young people. It begins with a discussion of the current challenges in preparing all youth today for the workforce. The report then provides a chronology of job training and employment programs for at-risk youth that began in the 1930s and were expanded or modified from the 1960s through the 1990s. It goes on to discuss the five youth programs authorized under WIA, and draws comparisons between these programs. Following this section is a detailed discussion of each of the programs.