Junior Guidance and Placement - NYA - 1938

In the spring of 1936, NYA, cooperating with State employment services, started to establish guidance and placement bureaus to focus attention upon the problems of young, inexperienced jobseekers. In two years, 78 Junior Divisions have been set up in connection with regular public employment offices in 32 States.

The services of these Junior Divisions are available to all youth, regardless of their relief status. Two questions naturally present themselves concerning Junior Employment Divisions. First, why should they be separate units in State employment services? Second, why should they come under NYA?

The adult experienced worker looking for a job usually has definite ideas about what he can do and in what fields he has the best chances for employment. He can easily be classified under such occupational headings as "clerical," "sales," "carpenter," etc.

The young person with scant work experience, often without occupational training of any sort, presents a different problem. Because he usually has vague or erroneous conceptions of the requirements of most jobs, and because he is often shy and uncertain of himself and his abilities, he needs the specialized service of an employment office.

"In a large public employment office where applicants are classified according to occupations," Dr. Mary H. S. Hayes, NYA Director of Junior Guidance and Placement, explained, "the youth worker is necessarily likely to get lost in the shuffle. He usually must find a job because of his potentialities rather than his past employment record."

"For that reason, the employment interviewer needs to have as much information as possible about him, his school interests, his hobbies, his ambitions, and any number of factors which may be utilized in intelligent placement of beginners in the work world."

"In Junior Placement offices, we have what we call multiple classification, by which youths are classified in as many fields of work as possible in view of their potential abilities and their general employment characteristics."

Because NYA, through its student aid and its out-of-school work program, can reach large numbers of youth and grasp their special problems, it was given the first task of organizing and establishing Junior Placement Divisions. Eventually, if they prove their value, they are to be taken over by the State employment services as regular parts of their organizations.

By April 1, 1938, this transfer had been made in nine States (California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin), and definite dates for effecting it had been made by three others (Minnesota, Iowa, and West Virginia).

Some of these States are expanding this type of service. No Junior Placement Division is opened unless the State NYA Director and the State Employment Director jointly request it. NYA's role is that of establishing these Junior Divisions, demonstrating their specialized functions, and then turning them over completely to the State employment services.

Just what happens typically to a young man or woman in a Junior Placement office? First, he goes to the receptionist. If he is under the age of 21, he is automatically directed to the Junior Division for an interview with a junior employment counselor.

Should this youth show that he is occupationally mature (that is, that he has held regular jobs in skilled trades or in office work), he is referred to the proper adult division for registration.

In turn, when the adult employment division interviews a young person between 21 and 25 who has little or no employment history, he is turned over to the Junior Division for its individualized attention.

The young person in the Junior Division is interviewed privately and conversationally. He provides as much employment history as he can, even of a job lasting for a day or a week, explains his own interests, and states his own work ambitions.

Often, he wants vocational guidance, needs information about the job resources in his own community. In what kind of work will he be most likely to find a place? How can he most advantageously prepare himself to enter some particular field? Given a chance for a certain type of job, what can he expect to earn?

These are the kinds of problems which young people bring to employment counselors. The counselor gets as full a picture of the youth as he can, acquaints him with any immediate job prospects, and invites him to return at any time for additional conferences. From the information the youth provides, his job possibilities are enumerated, and his name is filed in multiple occupational classifications.

The Junior Division also keeps what is called a "type file." Many employers of youth labor make their requests in some such manner as this: "I want a boy with a bicycle," or "I need a boy who can wear a size 36 uniform," or "I can use a big, husky boy," or "Please send me a boy who lives in the northeast section of the city."

Only by keeping a record of these types of youth can the Junior Division serve most efficiently both the employer and the jobseeker. Junior Placement Divisions constantly make contacts with employers to build up and maintain orders for youth workers.

"We definitely seek to guard against giving employers the impression that we want them to take younger workers into their organizations by discharging older workers," Dr. Hayes has stated, "but we do feel that there are certain jobs which should be reserved for younger workers."

Only large industries maintain their own employment offices with trained personnel for the selection of employees. In general, the selection of youth for jobs is a hit-and-miss affair. Every failure in a job is an economic loss to the employer.

A failure usually has a disintegrating effect on the youth. By knowing what each job entails and by making a careful scrutiny of the individual, the Junior Placement Division renders efficient service both to employer and to employee.

From March 1936 to April 1938 Junior Divisions interviewed 259,060 young people. Of these, they placed 103,881 in private industry. Contacts were made with 59,687 employers. NYA spent a total of $335,272 for Junior Placement up to April 1, 1938. The cost of each placement was $3.23. [Note 1]

These were the kinds of work which the 103,881 young men and women found through Junior Placement offices: About 10 percent were placed as errand boys. These were usually youth between 16 and 18 years old, and the wages they received were not high.

Approximately 14 percent, more found work classified as "labor," which includes bean-picking, spinach-cutting, beet- topping, cotton-picking, and also such jobs as those of truck-helpers and general handymen in factories and mills.

Eleven percent went on the payrolls of factories as bench-assemblers, joggers in binderies, packers and wrappers on the belt line, machine-feeders, floor girls, etc.

Twenty-two percent went into mercantile employment. This includes jobs such as those of salespeople in department and 5-and-10-cent stores, demonstrators, clerks in grocery stores, stock and shipping clerks, and ushers and usherettes in theaters.

Only about 4 percent came under the head of skilled trades. These were largely beginners' jobs. Clerical work accounted for 14 percent. This takes in typing, stenography, cashiering in stores and restaurants, business machine operation, and general office clerking.

Twenty-three percent were placed as household or restaurant workers. Many of these were waitresses in tea rooms, curb girls, soda jerkers, and bus boys.

Two percent came under the heading of professional work, and these were nearly all in semi-professional occupations such as window-trimming, beginner-accounting, and entertaining.

A study of wages received by youth workers placed by Junior Divisions in 66 cities shows great variance in different parts of the country. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the median wage for white youth was $8.29 a week, while in Reno, Nevada, the median proved to be $18.29.

In Negro offices in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina, the median weekly wages were $8.03 and $8.75, respectively; Chicago stood only slightly higher at $9.49; the District of Columbia Negro Junior Division reported $12.01 as its median wage.

The Junior Division is responsible for investigating many employment offers made for youth so that violation of labor laws may be eliminated and so that youth will not be placed in jobs in which there are moral or physical hazards.

Since the services of the Junior Placement offices are available to all youth, the registration lists show a higher average of education and work experience than would be shown by relief youth alone.

An analysis of 193,715 youth who applied and of 89,203 who were placed in jobs in private industry between July 1, 1936, and January 1, 1938, revealed these characteristics:


New Applicants
[Note 2]

[Note 3]

Under 18 years old





Between 18 and 21 years old





Between 21 and 25 years old





Eighth Grade Education





Some High School Education





High School Graduates





College Graduates





Worked Before [Note 4]





Never Worked





Certified for Relief





Not on Relief





Junior counselors held 531,595 interviews with these 193,715 young people and made 46,812 visits to employers in the effort to find work for them. The Junior Division of Guidance and Placement advises and assists NYA State administrators in the preparation of occupational manuals and briefs.

In 17 States, directories of training opportunities available to youth have been published. State directors report that guidance and placement counselors are aiding them in setting up free-time training classes for unemployed youth.

A special auxiliary consultation service is maintained by NYA in 10 cities. To this service are referred young people who need more intensive and more intimate assistance than Junior Placement offices can give them. Often, they are youth of high general abilities who are bewildered by the complex fields of employment and wish detailed and comprehensive help vocationally.

They may be youth so discouraged that they cannot make any new plans for training. The consultation bureau serves as a vocational clinic. Youth are helped to evaluate their school backgrounds and their work histories in relation to possible future training and employment.

Through aptitude and skill tests, they are helped to discover possible fields of work in which they might expect to succeed. Often, these young people want advice concerning appropriate places for training and recreation in their communities.

These 10 junior consultation bureaus are set up independently but in close co-operation with Junior Placement Divisions. Their purpose is to assist youth to untangle very complex vocational problems.

To schools, community organizations, and to industry they demonstrate possible ways of lowering the numbers of youth who never "find themselves" vocationally and whose work abilities are consequently lost.


Note 1: This is the NYA personnel cost for making the 103,881 placements, as rent, light, and heat are provided by State employment services.

Note 2: Complete figures not available for last four items.

Note 3: Complete figures not available for these items.

Note 4: Any job of 30 days' duration is included.

Betty and Ernest K. Lindley, "Junior Guidance and Placement," in A New Deal for Youth: The Story of the National Youth Administration, New York: The Viking Press, 1938, pp. 115-121.

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