- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Leaders of the federal Job Corps program for at-risk youths say they are raising its profile as a reliable feeder system of disciplined, trained and eager young workers.

“Job Corps turns 40 this year, and we feel this is the best time to reintroduce what Job Corps has to offer,” especially in the fields of health care, homeland security and armed forces, the chairman of the National Job Corps Association Inc. told The Washington Times during an editorial board meeting yesterday.

Job Corps remains the only federally funded residential employment training program for low-income people ages 16 to 24, Richard Schubert said. Among its more than 2 million graduates are skilled tradesmen, professors, judges — and boxing legend George Foreman.

Job Corps leaders have developed a 10-year plan for its 122 centers, which includes providing 60,000 graduates for health care jobs, 50,000 first responders and other emergency personnel, and 50,000 military enlistees and qualified entry-level civilian defense support staff, Mr. Schubert said.

Program leaders also are awaiting a call from first lady Laura Bush, who is championing a three-year initiative against gangs.

Job Corps is a tried-and-true gang-intervention program, said Mr. Schubert, adding that it reached out to Mrs. Bush soon after her initiative was announced by President Bush in his State of the Union address.

“Many times the gang is the only place where the young people can go and feel affirmed, feel connected, not alienated,” Mr. Schubert said. “Job Corps is a place where they can go, in which they’re disciplined, but there’s also the feeling that we are family and people like Lee and Billy care about what’s happened with them,” he said, referring to retired Brig. Gen. Billy Cooper, who directs the Earle C. Clements Job Corps Center in Kentucky, and Lee Mathews, who directs the Edison Job Corps Academy in New Jersey.

Both men, as well as Clifton Porter III, government relations officer for HRC Manor Care, attended the Times board meeting.

The Job Corps leaders said the Bush administration’s 2006 budget shaves $29 million from the program’s $1.5 billion budget.

In addition to sending a flurry of “don’t forget Job Corps” reminders to political friends on Capitol Hill, Mr. Schubert and his colleagues said they are forging new partnerships with employers, educators, community groups and the military.

“We’re still a very well-kept secret,” Mr. Schubert said, but reaction to its new presentations, especially from military and homeland security officials, has been “frankly, very good.”

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