Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America have been providing positive role models and building social skills for more than a century. However, most formal mentoring programs are relatively novel and researchers have only recently begun to rigorously evaluate their impact on changing at-risk youth’s perspectives and providing opportunities for them to achieve better life outcomes. While a variety of mentoring and counseling programs have emerged around the world in recent years, knowledge of their effectiveness remains incomplete.
Counseling, sanctioning, and monitoring
Unemployment benefits often reduce incentives to search for a job. Policymakers have responded to this behaviour by setting minimum job search requirements, by monitoring to check that unemployment benefit recipients are engaged in the appropriate level of job search activity, and by imposing sanctions for infractions. Empirical studies consistently show that job search monitoring and benefit sanctions reduce unemployment duration and increase job entry in the short term. There is some evidence that longer-term effects of benefit sanctions may be negative.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries spend, on average, an equivalent of 0.4% of their gross domestic product on active and passive labor market policies. This is a non-negligible sum, especially in times of strained government budgets. Meetings with case workers—who can provide advice and information on what jobs to look for, and how to search, and give moral support, as well as monitor search intensity—are a simple and effective option for policymakers to help the unemployed find work.
by Jochen Kluve
Reducing youth unemployment and generating more and better youth employment opportunities are key policy challenges worldwide. Active labor market programs for disadvantaged youth may be an effective tool in such cases, but the results have often been disappointing in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The key to a successful youth intervention program is comprehensiveness, comprising multiple targeted components, including job-search assistance, counseling, training, and placement services. Such programs can be expensive, however, which underscores the need to focus on education policy and earlier interventions in the education system.
by Hans Bloemen
Many OECD countries have, or have had, a policy that exempts older unemployed people from the requirement to search for a job. An aging population and low participation by older workers in the labor market increasingly place public finances under strain, and spur calls for policy measures that activate labor force participation by older workers. Introducing job search requirements for the older unemployed aims to increase their re-employment rates. Abolishing the exemption from job search requirements for these workers has been shown to initiate higher outflow rates from unemployment for the older unemployed.
Expenditures on job placement and related services make up a substantial share of many countries’ GDP. Contracting out to private providers is often proposed as a more efficient alternative to the state provision of placement services. However, the responsible state agency has to design and monitor sufficiently complete contracts to ensure that the private contractors deliver the desired quality of services. None of the recent empirical evidence indicates that contracting out is necessarily more effective or more efficient than public employment services.
The objective of providing vocational training for the unemployed is to increase their chances of re-employment and human capital accumulation. In comparison to mandatory course assignment by case workers, the awarding of vouchers increases recipients’ freedom to choose between different courses and makes non-redemption a possibility. In addition, vouchers may introduce market mechanisms between training providers. However, empirical evidence suggests that voucher allocation mechanisms prolong the unemployment duration of training participants. But, after an initial period of deterioration, better long-term employment opportunities are possible.