Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are the Benefits Short-Term?

The question that came to mind after reading the article was whether mentoring programs improve the life opportunities of at-risk youth because the summer jobs programs seems like a mentoring program. I believe the effects of such a mentoring program has mostly positive effects, but I believe those effects can be modest and evaporating over time. The program brings to mind mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which does seem to have a positive impact on at-risk youth. I do believe the summer jobs program is a great idea and that it benefits the youth, but I wonder what happens to the youth after they move on from the program. Knowledge of the effectiveness of these new mentoring programs is incomplete because many emerged in recent years. Some idea may sound great, but there are many factors that need to be considered when evaluating such programs. The program does not seem to target academic performance of the youth, which I believe should be the main goal. Training people to work entry-level jobs that pay at minimum wage is one thing, but helping that same youth enter high-paying professions that require advanced degrees is an entirely different matter. I do understand that the summer jobs must be a great short to medium-term solution for many at-risk youth, but the solution should rather be long-term. I went across some research online to see whether such mentoring programs are more effective in the short or long-term and it appears that most research points towards them having modest and short-term benefits. If researchers believe that such programs have their effects fade over time then why aren't we looking for a long-term solution? I believe the long-term solution would be helping the at-risk youth receive more education. Of course the program is beneficial to much at-risk youth, but helping them have jobs means other youth may not gain employment in some cases. Maybe that is not true, so much more research must be done before certain conclusions can be made. If there is evidence that the summer jobs program increases the chances that youth pursues  post-secondary education then that would be significant. Otherwise, I believe there may be other programs out there or that can be created to produce a more long-lasting effect.

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