The Effects of Career Development on Employment and Recidivism Among Juvenile Offenders

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A major failure of the juvenile justice system is to provide youth with career development skills that will ensure their successful entry into the workforce and reduce recidivism. This study had two purposes, which were to first examine the impact of career development on the formation of mature attitudes and competencies for realistic career decision-making for incarcerated youthful offenders, and second to determine the likelihood of gaining employment and the probability of recidivism for this population from participation in career development. A random sample (N = 50) was selected from a population of incarcerated youth offenders, approximately half of which participated in an employment program. The Career Maturity Inventory (CMI) was administered to both groups as pre- and posttests to measure the development of mature attitudes and competencies for realistic career decision-making. Logistic regression analysis was used to test the relationship between 6-month and one-year recidivism and employment with career development training in a sample of 1500 youth assigned to an incarceration facility. The first portion of the study did not produce significant differences from the two t test analysis, however, descriptive differences were noted between the groups. Regression analyses demonstrated that youth participating in a career development program were more likely to be employed at 6 months and one year post-intervention; however, there was no difference in recidivism. While the study had mixed results, this research enriches the ability of juvenile justice officials to prepare juvenile offenders for productive lives through career development programs; thus, increases in employment rates for youthful offenders represents a return on investment for the community.

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