According to a Pew Research Center survey, 53 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 either live at home with their parents or have moved in temporarily due to financial hardship. Six-months ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 51 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 were unemployed.
Today, amidst economic uncertainties, rising prices and record unemployment, it’s easy to see how young people might throw their hands hopelessly in the air. But American taxpayer-funded investments across the country can enable these same young people to effectively self-insulate against our long economic winter.
Those investments include Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers located throughout the country. The centers are operated in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Nationally, 86 percent of recent Job Corps graduates have secured a job, enrolled in higher education or enlisted in the military.
Job Corps offers career technical training in more than 100 occupations, in some cases through pre-apprenticeship programs operated in conjunction with international trade unions.
“We think Job Corps is a wonderful program. We just wish more people would take advantage of it,” said Kent Niles of Darby, Mont.
Kent and his wife Rebecca know what they are talking about now that four of their eight, formerly home-schooled children have attended and graduated from the Trapper Creek Forest Service Job Corps Center near their home.
Job Corps center staffs and their students log thousands of volunteer hours for a variety of projects and organizations. In fact, it has been calculated that every dollar invested in Job Corps returns almost $2 to the local economy.
Through a well-designed and tightly managed student internship program called Work-Based Learning, local businesses link arms with teachable students to provide real-world, hands-on experience and an opportunity for students to try out their newly acquired skills.
Local business owner Beth Barteaux, who owns and operates The Loft in Hamilton, Mont., has hosted eight student interns over the last couple of years.
“Job Corps Work-Based Learning Program has been a ‘win-win’ opportunity for The Loft, the students and the community,” she says. “I have found the students to be eager to learn, and they take their role in my business very seriously. They bring creative ideas to the table and often have suggestions that I am able to utilize to better my business.”
Forest Service Job Corps graduates find jobs in career technical training areas like:
- automotive and machine repair;
- construction jobs such as welding, carpentry, electrical, heavy equipment operation, painting and plumbing;
- finance and business services;
- health care;
- information technology;
- manufacturing; and
- renewable resources like landscaping, urban forestry and firefighting.
Forest Service Job Corps centers offer students a safe and secure, drug-, alcohol-, and violence- free environment to complete their education and technical training. Their commitment is demonstrated by a no-nonsense, zero tolerance policy for violence, alcohol, and drugs; any student who breaks this policy is dismissed immediately.
These centers are a place where young lives are changed and life trajectories are recalibrated. It’s a place where young men and women who have the desire and the aptitude, can choose their own path, fueled by their hopes, their dreams and a limitless imagination.
To learn more, contact a local Forest Service Job Corps Center.
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