|Parent department||Department of Labor|
Mission and purpose
Job Corps' mission is to help young people ages 16 through 24 to improve the quality and satisfaction of their lives through vocational and academic training.
The Job Corps was originally designed by a task force established by Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz reporting to his Manpower Administrator Sam Merrick. In 1962, the youth unemployment rate was twice the non-youth employment rate and the purpose of the initiative was to create a program whereby Youth members of the program could spend 1/2 of their time improving national parks and forests and the other 1/2 of their time improving their basic education skills which were severely limiting their occupational accomplishments. The Job Corps Task Force initially recommended that Job Corps programs be limited to Federal National Parks, National Forests, and other Federal Lands.
By the Kennedy assassination in 1963, the Job Corps' operational plans, costs, and budgets had been well developed, including coordination with the U. S. Forest Service and the U. S. Park Service, and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) executed among the agencies. Initiating legislation and budgetary authorizations were drafted by the Kennedy Administration and introduced in both houses of Congress.
When President Johnson and his planning staff decided on the War on Poverty, most of the proposed programs would take more than a year to even start. However the Job Corps idea was well along in the planning stage and could be deployed rapidly, so the Labor Department Job Corps Task Force was appointed to the Task force for the War on Poverty, and the Job Corps was slated to be the initial operational program.
Job Corps was therefore initiated as the central program of the Johnson Administration's War on Poverty, part of his domestic agenda known as the Great Society. Sargent Shriver, the first Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, modeled the program on the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Established in the 1930s as an emergency relief program, the CCC provided room, board, and employment to thousands of unemployed young people. Though the CCC was discontinued after World War II, Job Corps built on many of its methods and strategies.
The first National Director of the Job Corps program was Dr. S. Stephen Uslan, who was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson and reported directly to Sargent Shriver. The current national director of the Office of Job Corps is Lenita Jacobs-Simmons The Job Corps program is currently authorized under Title I-C of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
Since its inception in 1964 under the Economic Opportunity Act, Job Corps has served more than 1.9 million young people. Job Corps serves approximately 60,000 youths annually at Job Corps Centers throughout the country.
A person is eligible for Job Corps if he or she meets the following criteria:
- Is a legal U.S. resident; lawfully admitted permanent resident alien, refugee, asylee, or parolee, or other immigrant who has been authorized by the U.S. attorney general to work in the United States; or resident of a U.S. territory.
- Meets low-income criteria.
- Is in need of additional technical training, education, counseling, or related assistance to complete schoolwork or to find and keep a job.
- Has signed consent from a parent or guardian if he or she is a minor.
- Has a child care plan if he or she is the parent of a dependent child.
- Does not exhibit behavioral problems that could keep him, her, or others from experiencing Job Corps’ full benefits.
- Does not require any face-to-face court or institutional supervision or court-imposed fines while enrolled in Job Corps.
- Does not use drugs.
Phases of career development
Applicants to the Job Corps program are identified and screened for eligibility by organizations contracted by the U.S. Department of Labor. Each student in the Job Corps goes through four stages of the program:
Outreach and Admissions (OA): This is the stage at which students visit admissions counselors and gather information, as well as prepare for and leave for their Job Corps Centers. Transportation is provided to and from the centers by Job Corps.
Career Preparation Period (CPP): This stage focuses on the assimilation of the student into the center, academic testing, health screening, and instruction on resume building and job search skills. Students are instructed on computer literacy, employability, and center life. This phase lasts for the first 30 days on center.
Career Development Period (CDP): This period is where the student receives all vocational training, drivers' education, academic instruction, and preparation for life outside of Job Corps, i.e. a repeat of CPP with an actual job search.
Career Transition Readiness (CTR): The period immediately after the student graduates. Career Transition Specialists outside the center assist in the graduate's job search and arrangement of living accommodations, transportation, and family support resources.
The following Career Technical Training programs are offered by Job Corps. However, Job Corps continually adjusts program offerings in response to labor market demand, so the below list may not be fully complete or current.
Automotive and machine repair
Retail sales and services
There are six Regional Offices of Job Corps:
- Atlanta Region
- Boston Region
- Chicago Region
- Dallas Region
- Philadelphia Region
- San Francisco Region
In Program Year 2012, approximately 75 percent of Job Corps’ graduates were placed. Slightly more than 60 percent joined the workforce or enlisted in the military, while 13.5 percent of Job Corps’ graduates enrolled in education programs. CBS This Morning reported in October 2014 that some Job Corps centers have been accused of falsifying job placements and student training, as well as ignoring violence and drug abuse.
In 1993, the DOJ commissioned an evaluation of the program based on randomized assignment of eligible applicants to the program. Results showed impacts on employment, wages, and crime rates 4 years after enrollment, but modest impacts afterwards. Youths assigned to the control group could enroll in other programs, therefore the results are to be interpreted as the impact on enrolling in Job Corps relative to potential enrollment in other programs.  
Notable Job Corps members
- Charles Bradley - American funk/soul/R&B singer, signed to Daptone Records
- George Foreman
- Mike Epps
- Victor Iglesias
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- Schochet, Burghardt and McConnell, "Does Job Corps Work? Impact Findings from the National Job Corps Study" American Economic Review, 2008, 98:5, 1864–1886
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