The dynamic policy environment of the 1990s, which generated significant reform of the nation’s welfare system, focused increased attention on the link between workforce development and poverty reduction. In this context, many employment initiatives focused exclusively on adult workers, while others targeted school-age youth. However, comparatively few initiatives focused predominantly on older youth. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, unemployment of older youth stood among the highest in the nation in 2001. As such, it became critically important to address the needs of this population as part of a comprehensive workforce development strategy. The BEST Initiative for Older Youth is noteworthy in that it is specifically tailored to older youth (ages 18-24) who face barriers to employment and self-sufficiency that straddle the worlds of both adults and youth. Specifically, these may include significant educational deficits, limited job experience, sporadic labor force attachment, and potentially child care and family support responsibilities. Programs that target this population must provide flexible services that effectively identify and respond to these diverse needs. (author introduction)
Literature review: Evaluation design and implementation for Building Essential Skills through Training (BEST): Basic and occupational skill development initiative for older youth
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