Job Corps

By Flora Richards Gustafson on August 21, 2013
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There are many young people who cannot afford to go to college, or who do not feel ready for college life. At the same time, some really want to be competitive in the job market and advance their skills. In such situations, Job Corps may be a great option to consider.

Wouldn’t it be cool to get paid for studying?

Job Corps is a federally-funded program that helps people ages 16-24 finish their GED or high school diploma, if necessary, or even receive some college credits. In addition, young people receive hands-on training in a vocation of their choice for free. This program actually is better than free, as the participants are paid to participate.

Job Corps also helps prepare participants for life in the world of work; each works with a program staff member who helps them find and keep a job and assists with all the ins and outs of getting a place, acquiring insurance, making a budget, etc.

This program is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and has campuses nationwide.

How to get into Job Corps

Anyone interested in applying for Job Corps should call 1-800-733-JOBS (5627) or talk to his or her school counselor. The young person will then be connected with an area admissions counselor who can provide more information and an application.

Area Job Corps counselors typically have informational meetings regularly throughout their assigned regions. However, many counselors are willing to meet with a student and his or her parents/guardians at a location that may be more convenient.

Entrance into Job Corps is dependent upon meeting eligibility requirements including:

  • Must be between 16 and 24 years old
  • Must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States
  •   Must face one or more barriers to employment
  • Must meet low-income guidelines

Can’t wait to get in? Mel Hayes, an admissions counselor in the Job Corps program, said, “It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks up to six months for a person to actually start attending the Job Corps program. It all really depends on what campus a person wants to go to, their vocational choices, and how many are on the waitlist.”

While at Job Corps

The Job Corps program can last up to two years, depending on the career choice and if one needs to complete high school or obtain a GED. During one’s stay in Job Corps, a young person will be given free room and board, free uniforms (if required for the trade chosen), free medical and dental care, vacation days, and a cost-of-living allowance. The atmosphere is similar to being in college, as one is living on a campus away from home.

Aja Treante, a Job Corps student, said she loves being around the new friends she has made: “It helps me feel like I’m at home. It helps with not feeling so homesick.”

Regarding her vocational choice, Treante shared, “Well, I thought I wanted to be in the culinary field and was able to give it a try at JC. After some time, though, I knew it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I talked to my counselor about becoming a nurse, and she has helped me get enrolled into a great CNA (certified nursing assistant) program at a campus that was one of my top choices -- and they even have classes that will let me get advanced training so I can get a better job when I’m done.”

After a participant completes his or her training, a case manager works with the student to assist with applying for advanced training, a college career, or attaining a job. The participants receive follow-up services for up to 18 months.

About the Author

Flora Richards Gustafson

Flora Richards Gustafson

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