Date of Conferral





Human Services


William Barkley


The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 created programs to promote gainful employment across the United States. Extant studies on WIA's effectiveness have not examined youth workers, however, and youths are excluded from federal and Texas employment measures. This study was designed to address a research gap regarding postprogram employment outcomes for WIA youths and the types of services received: remedial or remedial plus job training. The study was guided by the theory of experiential learning and examined prior work experience as a variable, using a quasi-experimental design and secondary data. Data were obtained from the Texas Workforce Commission's database and the Unemployment Insurance wage database for a 4-year period after program completion, covering all youths in Texas who completed the WIA program between July 2007 and June 2009 who could be matched on relevant demographics across service groups. No significant difference was found in the mean number of postprogram employment quarters with respect to services received; however, youths with work experience prior to program exit had significantly more quarters of employment afterwards compared to those with no experience. The study findings do not support a return on investment from job training in terms of future employment; however, post hoc nonparametric analyses suggest such services might be helpful to youths without prior work experience. Reexamination of the job training services have resulted in positive social change by identifying more effective use of funds to promote employment among youths, especially those without work experience. Also, this study suggests efforts to help youths obtain early employment experiences and to help them remain employed.