Job Corps, a program which I strongly endorse, is a job training program for disadvantaged youth between the ages of 16 to 24 years old. The problem with Job Corps servicing minors (non-high school graduated 16 & 17-year-olds), however, is that it encourages students to opt out of the traditional public school system, which pays roughly $6,000.00 annually per student, while Job Corps pays more than $30,000.00 annually per student. Clearly, minor students, for whom educational allotments have been provided in the public school system, should be required to attend public school up to graduation or at least until 18 years of age, as a matter of prudence.
Job Corps should be an adult-only program with accessibility to certain minors under extenuating circumstances, i.e. the student is homeless, or is a victim of abuse or human trafficking, and is at least 16 years of age. Accordingly, the age limit for entry into Job Corps should be raised to offer opportunity to older economically disadvantaged individuals in need of its offered services of free job training, room and board, childcare, clothing allotments, three square meals a day, transportation assistance, GED classes and testing accommodations, stipends, readjustment or exit money and job placement.
Job Corps recruiters, in fact, should take proactive measures to recruit prospects from among the homeless and those who are victims of human trafficking, considering especially that so many who are victims were lured into the industry through promises of education and/or employment. Job Corps recruiters should form partnerships with homeless shelters and other synonymous agencies (including law enforcement agencies) that help to rescue individuals who are victims of human trafficking.
Job Corps, which currently manages about 17 prisons, is also the ideal entity to spearhead transformation of all prisons into the education/job training and placement, etc. pedagogical or indeed correctional entities that they really should be.
Job Corps, which should be proliferated domestically and abroad, has tremendous potential, and particularly via its Advanced Career Training (ACT) program, to train its participants for high demand jobs, i.e. in the IT industry, for which there is a shortage of qualified candidates.
Yolanda Martin is an alumnus and former employee of Job Corps. For more information about the program visit http://www.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx