If this sounds too good to be true, maybe you haven’t yet discovered Job Corps. Back in the day, it had a reputation as reform school for juvenile delinquents and high school drop-outs. That’s outdated information.
Job Corps is a Department of Labor program with a national network of 125 campuses offering career development services to at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24. A high percentage of our clients fall into this age bracket. The Bureau of Refugees, Population and Migration (BPRM) estimates that approximately 25% of Congolese arrivals will be in this age range.
Most of our clients will qualify based on income eligibility. Many crave education and need a range of skills to get an entry level job with career potential. Job Corps is an unmatched opportunity.
Many locations offer a campus setting where housing, meals, spending money and a range of extra-curricular activities are provided at no cost. Without the pressure of having to earn enough money to pay rent, clients can focus full time on perfecting their English, getting a GED and earning a certificate in one or more skilled trades. It’s a great way to learn social skills and meet other young people from different backgrounds, as well.
How to Proceed?
Identify Job Corps locations in your area here. The recruiting website has all of the basic information you need to get started, including a contact form that will get a rapid response from a recruiting office in your area. Other resources include YouTube and Facebook pages. Much of the recruiting information is available in Spanish.
Higher recommends developing a relationship with the recruiting office and touring the facilities before beginning to publicize the opportunity with clients. When you have applications, contacts and comprehensive knowledge of the steps involved, you can develop a plan to move forward. As you learn more about the different career training offered, you’ll be able to screen clients more effectively and help them think about which option might be the best fit for them.
Consider beginning with a small initial group with intermediate English language skills or who share a common language and culture. This will make it easier to provide initial interpretation and will build in an initial comfort level for the clients, their families and community. The word will spread and you will soon be fielding a high volume of interest. It helps to be prepared in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
What’s the Catch?
There are a few issues that require a bit of strategic thinking. These are definitely manageable and are far outweighed by the benefits. The enrollment process can take some time. Some traditional families might need to be provided with information so they can feel comfortable with the decision. For in-demand career tracks, there can be a several-month wait to enter the program.
Stay Tuned for Additional Help from Higher
Higher is developing a webinar focused on Job Corps. Watch our blog and website for an announcement early next year. If you have experience helping clients access this great opportunity, please get in touch as we gather success stories and expertise from within the refugee employment network.