Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Easing Reentry through Employability Skills Training for Incarcerated Youth

Three distinct time periods frame the juvenile justice process: before, during, and after incarceration. This article focuses on services and supports at each of these critical stages, specifically regarding employability skills. These skills, although supportive of vocational skills, are different from them. Beyond specific trade skills, employability skills include, at a minimum: effective communication, problem-solving, taking responsibility, and teamwork. These skills are important in many areas in addition to employment, but they are perhaps most essential to obtaining and holding a job. Thus, this article examines the psychological damage of youth incarceration and its impact on obtaining and maintaining employment post-incarceration. Existing programs and supports for employability skills are explored for before, during, and after incarceration. Finally, resources for practitioners are provided, and the needs for future research are discussed (p. 42). Sections of this article include: introduction; the importance of employability skills; psychological damage; trauma-informed care; employment post-incarceration; conceptual framework-life course theory; instructional programs targeting competencies for employability skills—before incarceration (examples of employability skills programs, and missed opportunities), during incarceration (examples of employability skills programs, and unmet need), and after incarceration (examples of employability skills programs, and remaining needs); the necessity of further research and development—resources for practitioners, future research, programs and practices, desistance or recidivism, and community-based alternatives; and conclusion.