Miller, C., Bos, J., Porter, K., Tseng, M., Doolittle, F., Tanguage, D., & Vencill, M. (2003). Working with disadvantaged youth: Thirty-month findings from the evaluation of the Center for Employment Training replication sites. New York: MDRC.
- This report’s objective was to examine the effectiveness of the Center for Employment Training (CET) model. Under this model, local employers helped to design training programs and provide them in a work-like environment to economically disadvantaged youth who were not in school or employed.
- The effectiveness of the CET model in improving employment, earnings, and participation in education and training programs was evaluated using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted in 12 sites in seven states.
- The study found few statistically significant impacts on outcomes measured over a 30-month follow-up period.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented RCT. This means we are confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the CET program and not to other factors. However, the study did not generally find statistically significant effects.
The Center for Employment Training (CET) Replication
Features of the Intervention
The CET program targeted disadvantaged, out-of-school youth ages 16 to 21. It was first implemented in a site in San Jose, California. Two RCTs conducted in the late 1980s confirmed that CET-San Jose produced positive results for participating youths. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Labor initiated a replication study to discover whether the CET-San Jose model could be implemented successfully in other settings. The CET replication sites agreed to participate in the replication study, and the national CET office in San Jose provided each site with technical assistance.
The CET model has four core features:
- It provides occupational and basic skills training in a work-like setting, and trainees advance at their own pace.
- It requires a full-time commitment from students, to accustom them to a work schedule.
- It maintains close connections to employers, who help design and implement the training programs.
- It has an extensive orientation process during which the rigor of the program is emphasized; less motivated individuals may drop out at that point.
Features of the Study
The study was an RCT conducted in 12 sites across the country. From 1995 to 1999, the study authors randomly assigned 748 youth to a treatment group eligible to receive CET services and 737 youth to a control group ineligible to receive CET services for 24 months. The authors estimated the effectiveness of the CET program by comparing outcomes of youth in the CET group with outcomes of youth in the control group. The outcomes of interest were employment, earnings, and participation in education and training programs measured up to 54 months after random assignment.
- El Centro, California
- Oxnard, California
- Riverside, California
- San Francisco, California
- Santa Maria, California
- Orlando, Florida
- Chicago, Illinois
- Reno, Nevada
- Camden, New Jersey
- Newark, New Jersey
- New York, New York
- Reidsville, North Carolina
- The study examined a number of outcomes related to receipt of education and training, employment, earnings, and public benefits receipt. The study found few statistically significant effects in any of these domains.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
In the evaluation’s final, 54-month report, the authors noted that implementing the CET model at the replication sites was challenging. The study reported that only 4 of the 12 sites implemented the model with high fidelity, 6 others implemented the program with medium fidelity, and 2 did so with low fidelity. The authors identified organizational stability as a key feature of successful programs; those that had high turnover in leadership and staff were less successful than more stable programs at sustaining the program model. Difficulty developing close relationships with employers was another challenge to successful implementation.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented RCT. This means we are confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the CET program and not to other factors. However, the study did not generally find statistically significant effects.