IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Community colleges all over the state recently upgraded to include a Job Corps program on all campuses.
Locally, the College of Eastern Idaho has seven applicants for the program, and they hope to enroll 50 prospective students by the start of the spring semester in January 2021.
“Job Corps is a short term program designed to help income-eligible youth improve the quality of their lives by connecting them to higher education career technical training and life skills designed to prepare them for careers in high demand occupations,” Fernando Sandoval, senior coordinator of Job Corps at CEI said.
Job Corps acts a supplementary program that aims to assist students who may need extra training or preparation for college classes. Job Corps will help students improve their test scores so they can enter college.
“The goal is to provide access to students that maybe want to go to college but don’t have the resources to do it or need a little additional training,” Sandoval said. “This is a great way for those kids to get where they need to go.”
Job Corps accepts students aged 16 to 24. The program is tuition-free with no cost for the three provided meals everyday and basic medical coverage.
There is an income eligibility requirement for the program, which means most Job Corps students will also be eligible for financial aid. Job Corps staff can help those students find and apply for available financial aid.
They will also cover fees associated with certain programs where financial aid cannot be applied.
“If you’re in one of the trade programs, you have to buy your own tools and that can be pretty expensive,” Sandoval said. “If they’re part of Job Corps, we can help cover the cost of those tools and as long as they complete the program, they can keep those tools.”
Job Corps students receive the same benefits as a full-time student enrolled at CEI and can earn industry-recognized credentials through the community college classes offered at CEI. Job Corps can also help students apply for child care to enroll in CEI. They provide clothing and transportation assistance.
“All these barriers to education that may be kind of preventing students from taking that next step to either receive training or pursue higher education, Job Corps is really here to help eliminate those barriers so that they can focus on their education and hopefully get them on the right path so that they can be self-sufficient and get into a career,” Sandoval said.
Job Corps offers additional life skills training which involves weekly classes and fitness and service learning requirements. The life skills training will also teach time management, goal setting and study skills to help students excel in their college programs.
As the student moves through the program, the life skills classes will adapt as the student advances to better meet the student’s needs along the way. Once the student is ready to complete the program, the life skills lessons will focus more on resume writing and interview skills to help them find a job.
“It’s really providing that support throughout the pathway of whatever that student is on to make sure that they can stay on path and they can focus on getting the grades that they need to be able to be employable when they get done,” Sandoval said.
The training equates to roughly 30 hours per week to include homework and students must make this commitment when entering the program. Students must maintain a C average in their classes with no missing assignments. Students who meet these requirements can receive a participation stipend to include $64 biweekly deposited directly into the student’s bank account.
“Aside from their commitments to whatever program they’re in at the College of Eastern Idaho, there are Job Corps requirements as well that they have to complete,” Sandoval said. “So they’ll be meeting with their cases manager and the team here and then also, obviously, doing their academic work as well.”
Job Corps offers vocational training to include occupational skills that will help students succeed in today's competitive job market. They will also assist in job searching to help place students once they complete the program.
The goal of Job Corps staff is to prepare students for a profession in the career of their choosing and one support they offer is helping students earn their GED. Students can enlist in the military, enroll in college to include apprenticeships and trades, or join the workforce after successfully completing the program and staff will work with each individual at their skill level to help them achieve their individual goals. Staff can also help students who need to test higher on their ASVAB to get into the military or earn certificates through workforce training.
Programs can take as little as 3 to 24 months depending on the career pathway each student chooses. The Job Corps program started at CEI at the end of July and they are currently enrolling students for the spring semester.
“If it’s a GED student, there are some classes they can still take through here that they have different blocks to start on so just depending on what your need is, you may potentially be able to get in some classes now, if not, it’ll be in January,” Sandoval said. “It kind of depends on the pathway that the student is choosing. So for example, some programs start in the fall so if there’s some general classes they can take before their program starts, that’s what we’ll have them do.”
Sandoval says the greatest benefit that comes from enrolling in Job Corps comes from the intensive case management support being offered.
“If you’re a student that’s new to college and you’re a little unsure about how to navigate the system, what resources are available as far as tutoring and things like that, Job Corps helps a lot with that,” Sandoval says. “You’ll have a case manager that is assigned to you who is kind of like a life coach that’s going to help you organize your calendar and make sure there are no issues with your classes. If you are struggling, they can help you find a tutor. It’s that extra support that really sets it aside from just being a normal student here at College of Eastern Idaho.”
Sandoval says there are four people on staff who can help guide students through the college process. The workforce coordinator can help expose students to different jobs and inform them of internship opportunities and help them secure a job.
“The whole point of Job Corps is to help them find a job,” Sandoval said. “So as they’re going through it, we’re going to explore different job opportunities, doing interview skills, resume writing and all that kind of stuff. So, really, when they’re ready to go, we can help them get that job.”
Sandoval says the minimum bar Job Corps is shooting for is to help students earn at least $15-$16 per hour starting wages.
“For those students that really need a little extra help or have some barriers to education, Job Corps is meant for you,” Sandoval said. “And also it’s a great incentive that we get to help pay for some of the costs, so if that’s an issue for you, meals, transportation, we can help with that stuff. So students that maybe think that college isn’t for them because they need a little extra training or they don’t have the money to do it, maybe Job Corps for you,” Sandoval said.
Job Corps open houses are held every Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at CEI, Building 3, College and Career Readiness Center.
You can find more information about Job Corps and apply for the program here.