Job Corps – a Path for a Successful Future

by Felicia Bechtoldt

July 5, 2016

Adriana dreams of working in the aviation industry painting airplanes. This is not only a dream, because Adriana is working to make this a reality through her dedication to her training at the Angell Job Corps Center. The painting program at the Angell Job Corps Center teaches her the skills required to succeed as a professional painter. At Job Corps, Adriana receives housing, food service, a living allowance, basic health care, and transportation for her initial and final trip to the center and home, all at no cost. Her advice is, "Complete your education! No one can take your education away from you."

What Is Job Corps?

Job Corps is a career and education program that helps young people ages 16 to 24 advance their education, begin a career, get a better job, and make more money. This is the largest career program in the U.S., founded in 1964 as part of President Johnson's War on Poverty, and is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Since 1964, 1.9 million young people have benefited from the program. More than 60,000 youth study in 125 centers nationwide each year. Last year, almost 800 students graduated from Job Corps in Oregon. According to the Job Corps, 90 percent of Job Corps graduates enrolled in higher education programs, found employment, or enlisted in the military.
Job Corps Experience

Adriana's experience at Job Corps includes four phases:

  1. Admissions Process, where she learned about Job Corps, program opportunities, and how Job Corps can help her start a new career.
  2. Career Preparation Period, which took place in her first 60 days of enrollment. During this time, she created a personal career development plan, and participated in career planning, resume writing and job interview activities. Students visit the local One-Stop Centers to learn about career assistance offerings.
  3. Career Development Period. During this time, Adriana receives intensive instruction in academic and vocational curricula as she learns to paint. Through various career activities, students enhance their problem solving skills, social management skills, and interpersonal communication.
  4. Career Transition Period, which will take place after Adriana's graduation. During this period, Adriana will have the support of a transition career specialist that will help her start her new career.
What Programs Are Available at Job Corps?

Job Corps offers training in more than 100 occupational areas across the U.S, including health care, advanced manufacturing, information and technology, renewable resources, hospitality, finance and business services, automotive and machine repair, culinary arts, protective and security services. In Oregon, around 30 training programs are available at one of the five Job Corps centers: All Job Corps programs meet the requirements of today's careers and align with industry certifications. "We offer career planning, on-the-job training, job placement, courses in employability skills, independent living, banking and taxes, and soft skills that help students successfully transition into the workplace," says Jeff Bolles, work programs officer at Angell Job Corps. "Even before graduation, we help students in their job search and up to a year after graduation we help them find employment." Thanks to the partnerships with employers in the region, says Bolles, Job Corps students can complete internships, acquire hands-on experience and be hired.
At Job Corps students have the possibility to take driving lessons, attend college classes at local community colleges and obtain a high school diploma or GED. Students can participate in various recreational activities, such as community service projects, sports, arts and crafts, leadership opportunities, and field trips to events and places. Some centers offer childcare assistance for single parents. Resources are available for English Language Learners.

Depending on the number of enrollment days, students at Job Corps receive a living allowance biweekly:
  • $25 for the first 56 days of enrollment,
  • $30 for 57-112 days,
  • $40 for 113-182 days, and
  • $50 for more than 183 days.
Students receive additional payments on their:
  • Arrival day - $25
  • Graduation with career training only (no high school diploma or GED) - $750
  • Graduation with a high school diploma or GED and career training - $1,200
  • Graduation with a high school diploma or GED - $250
  • Completion of 13-week, 6- and 12-month surveys after graduation - $20 each
  • Transition allowance for transportation and housing after graduation - $1,000.
While touring the Springdale Job Corps Center, I spoke with center director Naomi Ulsted. She said that training can last eight months to two years. Because Job Corps is a self-paced program, students can apply and graduate any time during the year. She recommends students to stay at the center for at least one year to expand their skills and gain knowledge needed for their career.

While most Job Corps centers offer dormitories to their students, some Job Corps centers serve non-residential students as well. For example, Springdale Job Corps offers training to about 20 non-residential students that commute to the center daily in addition to 140 residential students. PIVOT Job Corps is a non-residential campus that serves only non-residential students. Both Ulsted and Bolles said that their Job Corps centers serve a high number of students coming from other states, such as Washington, California, Idaho, and Alaska.

Who Qualifies for Job Corps?

Bolles outlined some of the eligibility criteria for applying to Job Corps. Applicants must:
  • Be 16 to 24 years old. If the applicant is a minor, a parent or guardian would need to provide consent. If the applicant has a disability, the maximum age limit can be waived.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, refugee, asylee, parolee, or other immigrant who has been authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to work in the U.S.; or resident of a U.S. territory.
  • Meet federally set income guidelines.
  • Have need for additional education, career training, counseling or assistance to complete schoolwork or find and keep a job.
  • Face barriers that keep them from getting an education or being employed.
  • Be committed to the program and willing to complete the training.
  • Before entering the program, applicants sign a contract committing to abide by the zero tolerance policy for violence and illegal drugs.
At Springdale Job Corps, I met Brendy, a student enrolled in a pharmacy technician program. After five years working as a housekeeper in a hospital, Brendy quit her job and enrolled in the Job Corps. Thanks to the Job Corps, she is pursuing her dream of helping people take better care of their health and improve people's lives. "Job Corps offers me a lot of benefits. Besides the career training, Job Corps helped me grow both personally and professionally, and improve my leadership and social skills and my life prospects." As I ask what advice she has for youth that don't know what to do in the future, she encourages them to apply for Job Corps, learn a trade and value the importance of education.

To apply for Job Corps, visit www.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx or call (800) 733-5627.

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