Implications of the Youth employment and demonstration projects act, PL 95-93: an application of policy analysis techniques

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not empirical analysis of policy questions could be profitably integrated with formal conceptual analysis of the assumptions underlying the response to the problem. To this end, the Youth Employment and Demonstration Projects Act (YEDPA) an amendment to the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) was chosen for study.

The study was conducted in four separate but inter-related stages. In the first stage, historical methodology was applied in an effort to determine the assumptions that led to the YEDPA and to establish the legislative and administrative requirements of the Youth Employment and Training Programs (YETP), the sub-section of the YEDPA that most directly involved the local school systems. The outcomes of this stage of the study provided the basis for a conceptual analysis of the assumptions and the initiating events that were to become part of a modified Delphi study of the impact of the YETP on the schools.

The second stage of the study sought to determine the content of typical YETP submissions from prime sponsors, the local interface between the Department of Labor and the schools. Again, historical methodology was employed. The result was a composite YETP proposal that provided a common point of reference when addressing the likelihood and impact of various outcomes of the YETP.

The third stage of the study involved two methodologies. First, potential outcomes of the YETP were identified through participant observation of the meetings of the National Task Force on Youth Employment Policy. The results of those meetings provided the outcomes that were presented to actors at the local school level to determine, using a modified Delphi approach, whether and with what impact, the events would occur.

In the fourth stage, conceptual analysis was applied to five assumptions that were specific to the YEDPA and to two assumptions that were generally applicable to Federal legislation in the area of social intervention. The conceptual analysis permitted the identification of assumptions that were either internally inconsistent or were externally incongruent with other assumptions. This stage also led to the integration of the other stages of the study to present a complete picture of the affect that the YETP would have on the schools.

As a result of the completion of the four stages of the study, it was determined that, in the opinion of the respondents to the modified Delphi, the YETP was more likely to hurt than help the schools. Analysis of the responses also revealed several important attitudes on the part of the respondents. It appeared that the respondents: l) considered disadvantaged youth a burden on the schools; 2) considered the counseling and vocational training functions to be of secondary importance to the role of the schools; and 3) considered maintenance of the status quo to be their most important task.

The conceptual analysis revealed serious flaws in the assumptions upon which the YETP was based. Internally, they tended to lack rational consistency and to be based on vague and imprecise usages of the terms involved. Externally, it appeared that logical contradictions plagued the rationale for the adoptions of the YEDPA with the result that it was impossible to achieve all the goals of the act. In fact, to achieve one set of goals made it logically impossible to achieve other sets of goals since the assumptions were in such basic conflict.

United States