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Year Up Boosts Earnings For Low-skilled Young Adults


  • Young adults without postsecondary credentials lack the skills to qualify for well-paying jobs.
  • Abt assessed if Year Up improved earnings and educational achievement.
  • Year Up resulted in large increases in quarterly earnings.
The Challenge

Prospects for young adults without postsecondary credentials have steadily worsened in recent decades. With few chances at well-paying jobs, millions give up on school and withdraw from the labor force. Enabling low-skilled young adults to gain access to training that can help them meet employers’ skills requirements is a critical goal for policymakers, workforce development organizations and educators.

The Approach

Under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study, the Abt team evaluated Year Up, a national training program in growth sectors such as finance and information technology for adults 18-24. Year Up provides six months of technical training followed by a six-month internship. During the year, participants receive weekly stipends. An implementation study examined the program’s design, operation and student participation patterns. An impact study with an experimental design measured effects on employment and educational outcomes 18-24 months after random assignment.

The Results

Students assigned to the study’s treatment group, which could access Year Up, had large, positive increases in earnings compared with a control group. Year Up increased average quarterly earnings by $1,895 in the two quarters after program completion. Large positive effects persisted through the third follow-up year. Year Up’s earnings impacts are the largest reported to date for workforce programs tested using a random assignment design. While more than half of control group members pursued training, treatment group members were more likely to take courses in life skills, accrue related work experience and receive an array of support services.