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Job Corps Celebrates 50 Years of Serving Disadvantaged and Low-Income Youth

Job Corps Celebrating 50 Years

Job Corps is a program administered by the United States Department of Labor that offers free-of-charge education and vocational training to youth ages 16 to 24. It was initiated as the central program of the War on Poverty during the President Johnson Administration in the 1960's.

But, is Job Corps keeping up with today's economy? Recently, National Public Radio's (NPR) Kelly McEvers spoke with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez about Job Corps and its 50-year history of serving youth. Is the program working? Here are the highlights from that conversation.

Q. Tell us how Job Corps works... Who does it serve?

A. Job Corps serves young people ages 16 to 24 for whom the education system just hasn't worked. They've dropped out. Many are homeless. This is not a program you go to and then go back home at night. The program provides very rigorous job-related career training. They're learning a skill, and we're giving them the critical life skills because, for so many people in this program, their lives have been very challenging.

Q. How many of these kids are actually getting jobs?

A. The job success rate has been very good. More than 80 percent of Job Corps graduates go on to join the workforce, enlist in the military or enroll in higher education.

Q. The American economy is different now. How has Job Corps changed to respond to that?

A. The Job Corps has adjusted. So back in the '60s, we trained mechanics. Now we train auto-techs with advanced diagnostic and computer skills so that they can do the auto-tech job of today. We're making sure that, just as in our workforce system, everything we do is demand-driven - giving people skills that are relevant to today's economy. That's exactly what we're doing in the Job Corps, as well.

To read the complete interview with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, visit www.npr.org/2014/08/22/342354126/job-corps-celebrates-50-years-helping-low-income-youths

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