Building Better Programs

Evidence Scan of Work Experience Programs

This study presents the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions that include work experience as a strategy to improve employment outcomes for populations with barriers to employment. The study reviewed 26 years of rigorous research for studies of effectiveness, gathering information from 27 evaluations. Some of the key findings are:

  • For adults, the strongest evidence was for both paid and unpaid work models with programs lasting up to 6 months or a year. There is moderate evidence for impacts on outcomes other than employment, such as criminal recidivism, as well as for access to on-the-job training.
  • The evidence on work experience programs for youth is mixed; while some studies showed strong impacts, others did not.
  • For youth, linking occupational learning with paid or unpaid work experience placements can have a positive impact on employment, earnings and academic outcomes.
  • All youth programs that demonstrated strong impacts incorporated some level of academic and vocational training, job search and placement assistance, and other supports into the program model.

Mathematica Policy Research – Evidence Scan of Work Experience Programs