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MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (04/07/15) – Since the early 70’s, there have been a few specific businesses and organizations in Muhlenberg County that have become a permanent aspect of our community. One of those is Job Corps of Muhlenberg County.

Karen Robinson, Job Corps Business Community Liaison and employee since 1998, states that Job Corps has been in Muhlenberg County since 1972, and has been an organization in the United States for 50 years.

“Job Corps provides disadvantaged youth with the social, academic and vocational skill training they need to be successful in their chosen career,” Robinson said. “Muhlenberg provides hands on training experience with certifications in the following eight trades: Certified Nursing Assistant, Clinical Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technology, Medical Office Support, Heavy Equipment Operating, Welding, Class B heavy truck driving, and Construction Equipment Mechanics.”

Karen went on to state that Job Corps was initiated as the central program of the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty, part of his domestic agenda known as the Great Society. Sergeant Shriver, the first Direct of the Office of Economic Opportunity, modeled the program on the depression-era. Established in the 1930’s as an emergency relief program, the program provided room, board, and employment to thousands of unemployed young people. The Job Corps program is currently authorized under the Workforce Innovation Act. Since its inception in 1964 under the Economic Opportunity Act, Job Corps has served more than two million young people. Job Corps serves approximately 60,000 youth annually at Job Corps Centers throughout the country.

Currently, the Job Corps Center Director is Eric Jones. Before taking this position in Muhlenberg County, Mr. Jones served as Center Director at the Bamberg Job Corps Center in South Carolina. Mrs. Robinson stated that Jones has held various senior management positions within Job Corps, including career development service director at Miami Job Corps, career development/transition program manager at Flint/Genesee Job Corps; independent living manager at Earle C. Clements; and a career counselor and leadership coordinator at Excelsior Springs Job Corps. Jones has a master’s degree in Business Management focusing on Job Corps Executive Management Programing from Minot State University in North Dakota, and a bachelor’s of science degree in psychology, focusing on special education and anti-violence studies from Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas.

When asked about the impact that Job Corps has on the Muhlenberg County economy, Mrs. Robinson said, “Job Corps’ return on investment is not limited to the dollars recovered as a result of its students’ educational and skills gains. With 125 campuses across America, Job Corps represents a base of economic activity in their communities that is particularly important during challenging economic times. For example, 228 local jobs are directly or indirectly supported by the average Job Corps campus each year, and $1.91 in local economic activity is generated by each dollar invested in Job Corps.”

As for the future of Job Corps, Robinson said that the Muhlenberg Center has drastically improved in overall Center ranking and currently ranks in the Top 50 in the nation. Within the next few months they plan to rank as a Top 25 Center in the Nation, and by year end, a Top 10 performing Center.

“Job Corps remains a life-changing, career-changing, employer-changing and community-changing program that affects thousands of lives in communities across the United States,” said Robinson. “Job Corps continues to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of our youth, businesses and economic conditions. I am eager and excited to see Job Corps to continue to grow over the next 50 years.”

Each year more than 50,000 high school dropouts, homeless young adults, young parents, students with learning disabilities, and youth aging out of the foster care system enroll in Job Corps, because it provides everything they need to start successful careers and become financially independent. Job Corps’ open-entry, open-exit model allows dedicated professionals academic and vocational professionals to create self-paced work plans for youth. Job Corps’ most distinguishing feature is its residential campuses and their staff. Counselors, academic and vocational instructors, and residential advisors, work with students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – not only on career pursuits but also on life skills, such as financial literacy and responsible citizenship.

Job Corps’ 50-year history is one of constant improvement and consistent success. Born in the 1960s, Job Corps was designed as a collaboration between public agencies and private sector businesses and employers to help poor and unemployed young people gain the credentials and employment skills to build careers. Fifty years later, more than 3 million jobless and undereducated youth, employers and local communities have been served or benefitted from this successful model – a comprehensive residential, academic and career preparation program. Today, more than 50,000 at-risk youth obtain the employment and life skills each year necessary to start a career. More than 80 percent of Job Corps graduates obtain jobs, enroll in higher education or enter the military.

KenCo News and the Greater Muhlenberg County Chamber of Commerce partner in stating that we are proud to have this organization as a mainstay in our community.

Information provided by Karen Robinson
Posted byJ.L. Graham
KenCo News