University of California

Public work projects cultivate youth in workforce development programs


David Campbell
Jean Lamming
Cathy Lemp
Ann Brosnahan
Carole Paterson
John Pusey

Authors Affiliations

A. Brosnahan is 4–H Youth Development Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Joaquin County.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 62(1):40-46. DOI:10.3733/ca.v062n01p40. January 2008.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


Using comparative case studies, we evaluated youth workforce development programs in California that are funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and implemented by local Youth Councils and Workforce Investment Boards. First, we identified a promising practice: skill- and pride-generating public work projects. Next, we identified three characteristics of these successful youth public work initiatives: (1) combining employment preparation with social services and personal support; (2) grouping youth in cohorts that work and learn together; and (3) providing caring adult supervision that combines discipline and support. Proactive investments in high-quality programs with these characteristics can reduce the growing number of out-of-school, out-of-work youth in California, save future public costs for the criminal justice and social service systems, and provide youth with meaningful employment opportunities.


Boyte HC. Everyday Politics: Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life. 2004. Philadelphia: Univ Penn Pr. 239.

Boyte HC, Kari N. Building America: The Democratic Promise of Public Work. 1996. Philadelphia: Temple Univ Pr. 255.

Brustein M, Knight R. A Guide to the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. 1998. Washington, DC.: National Association of Private Industry Councils. 62. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00990218

Campbell D, Lemp C, Treiber J. WIA Implementation in California: Findings and Recommendations. Final Report, UC Davis Evaluation of California's Workforce Investment System. California Communities Program, UC Davis 2006. http://http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/5089/33964.pdf.

[CDF] California Department of Finance. E-1 Population Estimates for Cities, Counties and the State with Annual Percent Change — January 1, 2005 and 2006. Sacramento, CA. May 2006 2006. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-004-0598-5

Children Now. California County Data Book 2005. Children Now 2005. Oakland, CA.: http://http://publications.childrennow.org/publications/invest/databook_2005.cfm.

Fogg N, Harrington P. One out of Five: A Report on Out of School and Out of Work Youth in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Center for Labor Market Studies 2004. Boston, MA: Northeastern Univ. (prepared for Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board).

Giloth RP. Workforce Intermediaries for the Twenty-first Century. 2004. Philadelphia: Temple Univ Pr. 424.

Lamming J, Lemp C, Campbell D. The Workforce Investment Act and California Youth: Implementing Local Youth Councils and Youth Programs. Fourth Interim Report, UC Davis Evaluation of California's Workforce Investment System. California Communities Program, UC Davis. September 2006 2006. http://http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/5089/33969.pdf.

Lemp C, Campbell D. Survey of Local Workforce Investment Board Executive Directors. Second Interim Report, UC Davis Evaluation of California's Workforce Investment System. California Communities Program, UC Davis. April 2005 2005. http://http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/5089/34141.pdf.

Mangum GL, Barnow B, King C. Reflections on training policies and programs. In:. Improving the Odds: Increasing the Effectiveness of Publicly Funded Training. 2000. Washington, DC: Urban Inst Pr. 293–333.

Nathan R. Social Science in Government: The Role of Policy Researchers. 2000. Albany, NY: Rockefeller Inst Pr. 213.

Reich RB. The Next American Frontier. 1983. New York: Penguin. 324.

Reich RB. The Work of Nations. 1991. New York: Knopf. 331.

Reich RB. I'll Be Short. 2002. Boston: Beacon Pr. 121.

Sum A. Leaving Young Workers Behind. National League of Cities, Institute for Youth, Education, and Families 2003. Washington, DC.: 16. http://www.nlc.org/ASSETS/B427F9BF9AB748E-7A1768C04C03405B6/IYEF_DY_Leaving_Young_Workers_Behind.pdf.

Campbell D, Lamming J, Lemp C, Brosnahan A, Paterson C, Pusey J. 2008. Public work projects cultivate youth in workforce development programs. Hilgardia 62(1):40-46. DOI:10.3733/ca.v062n01p40
Webmaster Email: wsuckow@ucanr.edu