What Is Job Corps and How Can You Use It for Career Advancement?
If you can name three things that you need in your life in order to live comfortably and contentedly (if not happily), what would they be? Lots of money? A whole family? A ton of friends? Significant business connections?
You can probably come up with a list as long as your arms – both of them – and, on that list, there is a very high probability that “having a stable job with a very good pay” is one of them. Well, maybe not in those exact words, but something along those lines.
Having a stable job, with more than decent salary and benefits, as well as additional perks that come with it, is what many jobseekers want. Straight out of college, fresh graduates immediately start sending in feelers and submitting their resumes to the top companies, hoping they will receive a call informing them that they are being considered for this or that position.
UNFORTUNATELY, FINDING A JOB IS NOT AS EASY AS WE’D HOPED IT’D BE…
If you look at the trend of labor statistics in recent years, it is clear that there are a lot of people who still do not have a job.
The latest news release of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, as of November 2016, the total unemployment rate in the US is 4.6%. For what it’s worth, however, this figure is 0.3% lower than the rate registered during the previous month of October (at 4.9%). It has actually shown a steady decline, especially if you compare it with the unemployment rate one year ago, on November 2015, when the unemployment rate was pegged at 5%.
Apparently, the main reasons for unemployment among the respondents are job loss and the completion of temporary jobs. This implies a shortage of jobs, so people are going for practically anything temporary, including the jobs which do not last long enough to qualify as gainful employment in the first place. Just look at how many dozens of hopefuls are going up for a single position in a company. So many jobseekers, but so few jobs.
At times like these, jobseekers look for other ways and means to find job prospects. You’ve probably gone through most of these processes yourself. Pored over the yellow pages? Went over the classifieds section of the dailies to look for potential job postings? Signed up in online job communities and job portals and uploaded your resume on each and every single one of them? Became a member of various organizations and groups so you can expand your network for your job search?
You may also have enlisted the help of family members, friends and acquaintances to be on the lookout for potential job openings that you’d be perfect for. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially in this day and age where even job-hunting has become really competitive. Let’s face it: you’ll need all the help you can get.
Well, guess what? There is another direction you can turn to if you want to cover all your bases and get as much help as you can. The best part? You can get started even at a young age. This “help” comes in the form of the Job Corps.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE JOB CORPS
Job Corps is a program with the ultimate goal of helping young people find, and keep a good job. It is pretty much what you’d hear most student training programs geared for future employment claim to be their main purpose. What makes Job Corps different from them? Or, the more important question would be: what makes Job Corps so much better?
Job Corps is an education and training program administered by the US Department of Labor (DOL), for free, by virtue of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WOA) of 2014, as part of its Employment and Training Administration (ETA) initiative. Its implementation is in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, since the focus is on the disadvantaged youth, who need direction so they can have careers and be comfortable later in life.
It has quite a long history, having been launched and operational since 1964, and now becoming the largest education and training program specifically for disadvantaged youth. According to the DOL, Job Corps is able to help around 100,000 young people annually, and has guided more than 1.5 million youths toward a brighter future.
To understand better what Job Corps is, and to know what good it can offer, let us dissect it further, shall we? Here are the questions most people have about Job Corps.
a) Is it like a course you’d take in college or at a conventional school? What can you learn from it?
Yes, Job Corps is an education and training program, but it doesn’t strictly follow the school format we’re familiar with.
Through Job Corps, you can learn the “all-around skills needed to succeed in a career and in life”. Learning a career is a long and hard road, and certainly not something that can be learned overnight.
There are a lot of factors involved, and definitely a lot of learning to do, and Job Corps addresses that with its comprehensive array of offerings, such as:
- basic education that is competency-based
- vocational and skills practical training
- occupational exploration, introducing the students to their varied options from a wide spectrum of occupational trades
- job placement services for students after they have completed the program
b) Do you have to pay for any tuition or other fees?
Nope. Job Corps is a free program. Qualified students to the Job Corps are not expected to pay for the education and trainings that they will undergo under the program. If you are eligible, you will get all the offerings of the program for free.
c) Is it open for all ages?
We wish. But Job Corps is structured and designed so that it is aimed at young people, or young men and women between the ages of 16 and 24.
Does this mean that anyone who reaches 16 years old is qualified?
Not automatically. You see, candidates have to meet several criteria for eligibility to qualify for the offerings within the program. We will go into more detail a bit later on what these criteria are.
d) Can anyone meeting the age requirement qualify for Job Corps’ offerings?
As mentioned above, they have to be assessed as to their eligibility. And one of these criteria considers whether they are “disadvantaged” or not. Job Corps, after all, is designed for the disadvantaged youth, such as those who are from low income backgrounds or those deemed to have fewer chances than others to achieve education and other benefits.
e) Is it restricted to a specific period?
Job Corps is a full-time program, and it is unlike regular schooling, which has a specific school year to or term to stick to. At most, students undertaking the Job Crops can do so for two years, during which they can accomplish or complete the program at their own pace. It is completely voluntary, so you can leave or stop at any time you want to.
f) Is it conducted in a specific location or place of study?
The program is available in 48 states of the United States and the District of Columbia. It is also being administered in Puerto Rico. This means that the program has a wider reach.
According to the DOL, Job Corps is residential, with 90% of the students taking up the program in their own homes or places of residences, while the remaining 10% do so in the designated Job Corps centers on a regular basis.
As we go along, we will learn more about the finer details of Job Corps, and how it can be used specifically for career advancement.
HOW TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR JOB CORPS?
Once you’ve learned the basics about Job Corps, you must be curious as to how you can qualify to getaccepted in the program.
We’ve already made it clear that not everyone can qualify for Job Corps, and that there are specific criteria that must be met. Now we will take a look at what those eligibility criteria are.
- You must be a citizen of the United States, or a permanent resident alien that has been legally admitted into the country and granted permission to be employed. You must have all the documentation ready to prove your identity and citizenship.
- You must be between the ages of 16 and 24 at the time of enrolment into the program. The maximum age may be waived if you havea disability, and it has been properly documented. If you are still a minor, you have to obtain a consent form, duly signed by your parent or guardian. If, on the other hand, you are already a parent, you can only apply if you can prove that you have a child-care plan in place.
- You must be considered specifically as “economically disadvantaged”, such as having low income, or coming from a family on or below the poverty line, therefore requiring public or government assistance. Examples are runaways or foster children who have no other means to support themselves. Parents with no means to support their child financially are also prospective students. Take note that you have to prove your inability to get education and training under normal circumstances.
- You must have been a high school dropout, or in need of additional education or training in order to be able to get a job.If your skills in reading, writing and arithmetic are considered to be below the eighth-grade level, this means that you will have a hard time getting a job. Additional training obtained through Job Corps will definitely solve that problem.
- You must not have any serious medical, psychological or behavioral problems, which can potentially interfere with, or hinder, the process of learning of the other students taking the program. This means that you should also be drug-free or not have any problems with alcoholism or other forms of addiction.
- You must come from a disruptive environment. You may have grown up in an environment that is not conducive to learning, so you’ll need reinforcement, which can be provided by Job Corps.
After going through all that, are you qualified for Job Corps?
FOUR PHASES OF JOB CORPS
Job Corps has identified four phases within its system. By going through these four phases, you’ll have a clearer picture on how the whole program works.
Phase 1. Outreach and Admissions (OA)
This is the first step, when you are still applying to become a Job Corps student. Here, you will be briefed on what Job Corps is all about and how it can help you start your career. You will also be given a sneak peek on what it will be like to learn and work on a Job Corps center in the duration of your enrolment in the program, emphasizing your duties and responsibilities.
Naturally you will have to choose which center you’d want to learn and work at, so you will also be told about the vocational courses that the center you are eyeing has to offer.
Phase 2. Career Preparation Period (CPP)
You will reach this stage when you’ve been admitted into the program and become a Job Corps student. The CPP covers your first 60 days with the program, where you will learn, demonstrate and practice the personal responsibility skills and job search skills that will be required at the workplace. Examples are basic proficiency in languages and knowledge in computer and office applications.
It is also during this phase that you will get to create your own personal career development plan, which you will commit to for the entire duration of the program, and even after having completed it. Don’t worry if you are at a loss on how to prepare it, because you will be aided by Job Corps staff.
Phase 3. Career Development Period (CDP)
At this point, you will move past personal skills and focus on learning and practicing industry-related skills. This includes learning about technical and academic skills specific to the career program that you have committed yourself to.
You will get to learn and improve your interpersonal communication skills and social skills. If you’re going to aim, then you gotta aim high, which is why you should also be eyeing the improvement of your problem-solving skills.
This is the phase where you will start the job search process. You will also be equipped with the knowledge and skills that will prepare you for living independently.
Phase 4. Career Transition Period (CTP)
Congratulations! Reaching this stage means that you have completed the program and you are already a Job Corps graduate. What is in store for you in this phase?
This is where you will successfully get your first job after completion of the Job Corps program. Since it is a transition period, the Job Corps center and the staff that have aided you throughout the program will help and guide you along the way, so you won’t be completely at a loss. They will help you in finding living accommodations suitable for your needs. You might also need family support services so that you can continue working. Examples are child care services and elderly care services.
Throughout this period, you can remain in contact with the Job Corps center and its service providers, especially when you still need some assistance in one way or another. A Career Transition staff member will be there to help you along.
This is not forever, though, because it will last up to 21 months after you have graduated from the program.
JOB CORPS FOR CAREER ADVANCEMENT
One of the perks of being in the Job Corps program is having cost savings, since you’ll get to acquire knowledge and training for free and, in the process, also receive health and dental care, clothing allowances and the like.
But we’ve come to the most important question: how can Job Corps help you, exactly, in building your career and advancing onward and upward? Let us count the ways.
Job Corps will provide the training and education you need.
This is the main advantage or benefit that students in the Job Corps will enjoy.
There are more than 100 career programs that you can choose from, depending on your interest and preferences. With so many career programs and topics, you can be sure that there is a wide spectrum for you to take your pick from.
The topics range from the practical to the technical, so you will find included options such as accounting, business management and administration, information technology, health care, office administration, retail sales, and environmental and medical fields.
Vocational courses are also on offer, such as carpentry, automotive repair, machining, welding, plumbing and heavy truck driving. Special interests are also catered to, such as culinary arts, landscaping, hospitality, and child development, to name a few.
By the way, did you know that high school dropouts can actually erase that tag? Yes, Job Corps also helps high school dropouts in earning their high school diploma. If that is not possible, they could still get the equivalent General Education Development diploma instead.
It doesn’t have to be a full course similar to an associate degree, because even special short courses may also be given. These courses are specially designed to equip you with special additional skills and knowledge that will help you along.
A popular example is the Limited English Proficiency course for those who are learning English. This is mostly sought by resident aliens who want to work in the U.S. but have to overcome the language barrier.
A great thing about Job Corps being involved in this is how the program is often linked with local and state colleges, so that any credits earned during the program can be transferred and carried over into the curriculum of the college, should you decide to go back to formal schooling later on.
Of course, it is a fact that even those with lots of technical knowledge will still end up incompetent when in the actual workplace, because they haven’t had the chance to practice or apply the theoretical knowledge that they have acquired.
Well, you’ll feel better knowing that Job Corps will also let you get hands-on experience. You will actually get to apply the knowledge you’ve gained from your classes and lectures in actual work sites. This way, you will get a feel of the real working environment.
You’ll definitely feel more prepared to jump into the fray once you’ve graduated from the program, and that level of comfort and familiarity will put you at ease immediately, so you won’t have trouble getting into the swing of things.
Job Corps will provide post-program career assistance.
This is another amazing benefit of Job Corps. Usually, universities and state colleges are “done” with their students once they have graduated. If you are a Job Corps graduate, you can still get assistance from the program even after you are finished with it.
Job placement is one area where everyone needs help – not just Job Corps graduates. Job Corps graduates can have more opportunities in finding a job in a high-growth industry because the Job Corps will provide that much needed aid.
Other post-program career assistance that can be enjoyed by Job Corps graduate, which will aid their way up the career ladder, include aid for housing, transportation, and child care.
It is clear and simple: Job Corps does not provide or offer jobs. It is not a job portal or a job search program or company that you can tap into to look for a job. You cannot expect to walk through their doors, tell them you need a job, then be given one immediately. That’s not how it works. It’s a collaboration; they’ll give the opportunity, you’ll provide the effort. Together, you will get the results that you want, which is to prepare you for a career that will take you places and improve your way of life.
Are you planning on applying for the Job Corps program? If you meet all the eligibility criteria, and you are determined to make it work then, by all means, do so. Job Corps is there to help you out, so might as well take advantage of it, don’t you think?
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