'Frustrations' of Youths in Job Programs Analyzed
Youths who decide to leave remedial-education and work programs designed to improve their employment opportunities typically do so "after a succession of frustrations and failures," not merely on impulse, a new study concludes.
The time gap between the onset of dissatisfaction and a participant's decision to leave, it says, offers program managers a "window of opportunity" to improve the situation and thus lower attrition rates.
The study, conducted by Public/Private Ventures, a nonprofit youth-research and program-development organization, is based on interviews with 125 young people who had participated in two in-school remedial programs and two out-of-school youth-service corps. None of the programs was identified.
Administrators of such programs have long been concerned with their high rates of attrition, according to the 37-page report, "Youth Motivation: At-Risk4Youth Talk to Program Planners." Loss of participants who have not completed a program, it notes, raises per-person costs, lowers performance averages, and exposes programs to charges of "creaming," or focusing aid on the people who are easiest to help.
Participants' reasons for dissatisfaction are often reported to program officials, the study found, offering managers a chance "to work closely with participants and encourage them to stay."
Half the young people interviewed for the study had dropped out of their programs. Some left because of dissatisfaction with a teacher, it found, while others cited a difference between what they had expected from the program and the reality.
Many left for reasons not directly related to the program, according to the study, such as better job offers, health problems, or adolescent parenting.
Young people in the study most frequently cited a supportive relationship with an adult staff mem8ber as the most positive aspect of participating in such programs.
To improve recruitment and retention, the report recommends, program administrators should take more care in selection of staff and provide ongoing counseling and training for staff members.
It also suggests that administrators of in-school programs offer additional inducements for youths to stay involved, such as recognition awards "for surviving the initial phase of program participation." That is when participants are "most likely to leave," it notes.
For older youths in out-of-school programs, the report calls for more efforts to provide nonmonetary recognition of longevity and achievement.
Copies of the report can be ordered for $5 each from Public/Private Ventures, Communications Department, 399 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19106. An executive summary is available without charge.--k.g.