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GAO Report Provides Suggestions For Strengthening Job Corps Programs

Jun 22 2009

Report finds that while Job Corps provides critical career skills, more can be done to help retain and recruit young women

View the GAO report

(Washington, D.C.) – The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Job Corps training program, while meeting its goals for young, disadvantaged males, is struggling to meet its goals for young women according to Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today. The report found that Job Corps has taken some steps to improve the recruitment of young women but that more can be done, including providing more appealing career training options and additional support services for young women.

It’s unacceptable that compared to men without college degrees, women without such degrees are more likely to earn less, to be unemployed, or to rely on public support.” said Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “I commend GAO for calling attention to this problem. I appreciate that Job Corps recognizes it as well, I look forward to working with the Department of Labor to offer needed new job training opportunities for women, especially in high growth, high demand occupations. 

“Our Job Corps centers offer valuable academic, vocational, and social skills training, but we are missing opportunities to reach many young women,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. “Programs that work for women, like the one in Cascades, Washington, offer training for in-demand careers like health care that appeal to young women. I encourage the Department of Labor to make a concerted effort to improve the program’s outreach and service to young women and fully adopt the GAO’s recommendations.”

“Job Corps is an important education and job training program for youth who do not see a future for themselves through traditional means,” said Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member of the HELP Committee. “This is why I continue to work to get a Job Corps center in Wyoming -- so that all of our young people can see their way to a successful future.”

"On my recent visit to the Atlanta Job Corps, I witnessed how Job Corps was so much more than just a job training program,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ranking Member of the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. “It gives our young people a range of opportunities they may otherwise not have. I hope the Job Corps leadership studies this GAO report carefully so more young people can join the bright and motivated students I met in making a better future for themselves and their family."

To improve the recruitment and retention of young women the GAO report recommends DOL:

  • Review the availability and selection of career training offerings at centers—particularly those centers that are experiencing difficulty with female enrollment— and assess whether centers need to adjust their career training options to offer more career training that is both attractive to women and that could lead to careers that will enable women to become self-sufficient.
  • Expand current efforts to ensure that outreach and admissions contractors across all six regions consistently provide potential students with complete and accurate information on all aspects of Job Corps, including providing specific information about the center in which the student will be enrolled.
  • Explore the feasibility or cost-effectiveness of developing video or online virtual tours for all centers.

Today’s report was requested by Senators Kennedy, Murray, Enzi, and Isakson. The report was requested to assess what more can be done to enhance the program's effectiveness and reach more young people.