Ginsburg, K. R., Forke, C.M., Kinsman, S.B., Fleegler, E., Grimes, E.K., et al. (2000). Retention in the United States Job Corps: Analysis and recommendations. Philadelphia, PA: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
- The study’s objective was to collect information to help Job Corps program and policy staff improve participant retention in the program. Job Corps offers intensive academic classroom instruction and vocational skills training, along with support services, to economically disadvantaged youth.
- The authors used information from the Job Corps database on the demographic and other characteristics of participants who dropped out to study the timing of and reasons for withdrawal from the program. They administered a survey to the centers with the highest and lowest retention rates, and they conducted focus groups, interviews with program staff and participants, and observations of service delivery at five Job Corps sites.
- The authors’ analysis of characteristics and survey responses found that students with certain characteristics—for example, older students, those who entered the program with more advanced educational attainment, and those who interacted more closely with admissions counselors at Job Corps centers—were more likely to remain in the program. However, the authors noted that these were not highly reliable predictors of whether a student would remain in the program, suggesting unobserved factors played a role as well.
- The qualitative analysis of focus groups, interviews, and observations indicated that the students’ motivation, emotional maturity, and interpersonal skills and the strength of the relationships between participants and staff were important determinants of retention. Based on these findings, the authors recommended launching a staff training initiative to ensure staff were prepared to communicate effectively with students, challenge them, and build their sense of connectedness with one another and the program.
Reviewed by CLEAR