NORTH CAROLINA – Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Community Relations Council and Center Industry Council meeting on July 10, 2018, demonstrated why local and national businesses, along with public land management agencies, actively recruit its students and graduates for internships and jobs. Oconaluftee’s participating agreement with and placement of students at Asplundh, a family of companies with over 35,000 employees throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is an example of the success of this approach.
“Our CIC and CRC members ensure that our curricula and trades are relevant to, match workforce development needs and meet the standards that employers identify,” said Oconaluftee Job Corps Center director Jimmy Copeland. “Our vocational training is industry driven. The center’s partnerships with engaged, diverse stakeholders allow us to reach beyond the local employer base and think regionally and nationally.”
To continually improve the centers job placement performance, members of the Oconaluftee Job Corps Student Government Association led small break-out sessions to capture feedback from CIC and CRC members. Field and regional representatives from the offices of Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr and Congressman Mark Meadows also actively contributed suggestions.
Oconaluftee Job Corps borders the tribal lands of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee and Bruce Toineeta, executive liaison to EBCI’s vice-chief, was one of seven Tribal attendees. “Our youth could definitely benefit from this training,” said Toineeta. “The challenge is to get our young people to recognize and take advantage of this opportunity.” Ten Oconaluftee students currently intern at Tribal enterprises.
Oconaluftee’s partnership success is not limited to private industry. A reflection of this is the strong attendance from the Forest Service Southern Region which, through a Public Lands Corps agreement, funds placement of four Oconaluftee students at its Savannah River Site.
National Forests of North Carolina Forest supervisor Allen Nicholas, Savannah River Site Forest Manager and Deputy Forest manager Devela Clark and Peggy Adderson, and Southern Region Fire & Aviation director Shurdul Raval expressed a desire to expand the existing partnership beyond a regional level to fill critical job needs on the national forests. They also identified the need for students trained as timber cruisers and red-carded as firefighters who could form flexible crew modules.
Rounding out attendance at the meeting were representatives from the Department of Interior’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Bureau of Indian Affairs and program directors from the Greening Youth Foundation.
Oconaluftee Job Corps Center is continually developing new partnerships and enlarging its network with industry employers that directly shape students’ vocational training to ensure they are employable and always the best candidates for the job. This is a win-win for both students and employers. This directly support the agency’s strategic plan emphasizing out-come oriented goals of delivering benefits to the public and excelling as a high-performing agency while sustaining our nation’s forests and grasslands.