Phoenix Job Corps

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The Phoenix Job Corps is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor helping young people improve their lives through education and career technical training. Ché Collins, Deputy Director and Alvin Ford, Center Director for the Phoenix Job Corps Center discuss the program.


José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm José Cárdenas. The Job Corps is a national program that helps youth prepare for successful careers or further their education. We will talk to the deputy director and center director for the Phoenix Job Corps center in a moment, but first, here is a recruitment video from the program.
Job Corp Advertisement-
Life is not easy.
It wasn't important me.
You don't always get the breaks but if you want to work hard, Job Corps will help you.
You'll hear people say no but don't ever let nobody tell you you can't.
Join the Job Corps.
Success lasts a lifetime.
Job Corps.
Job Corps.
Don't let anyone tell you you can't, because you can.

José Cárdenas: With me to talk about the program here in Phoenix are Ché Collins, deputy director, and Alvin Ford, center director. Both are with the Phoenix Job Corps center. I understand celebrated its 47th year?

Alvin Ford: Right, Job Corps celebrated their 47th year of existence. We had 94 graduated. Graduated, either a high school diploma, GED or trade and graduated on the 30th of August and there was a national graduation where all of the Job Corps participants and those were good numbers for Job Corps as a whole.

José Cárdenas: Ché, Describe the things do you in Phoenix.

Ché Collins: We try to treat our center in a more holistic approach. I think the things we do here is unique to Arizona. We have eleven career technical training programs on center. Five are of the construction trade which three are union trades, our carpentry, cement masonry. We offer in the healthcare, because that's big in the labor market here. We have the CNA program. We have the medical assistant program as well. We have office administration, we have -- we offer the retail sales and security. Did I forget anything?

Alvin Ford: Got the office of administration. We also have painting and what we call facility maintenance.

José Cárdenas: And how many students are we talking about?

Alvin Ford: We have 450 students at any given time on a daily basis. We typically run 750, almost 800 students through a year.

José Cárdenas: How do they get into the program?
Alvin Ford: It's an open entry, open exit program. They are recruited through an organization called Cornerstone. Cornerstone is recruited for this particular set up. And they go through an application process and write an essay, they submit the proper paperwork, and its income based and there's normally a waiting list, two to three months to get in, depending on what trade they want.

Ché Collins: I think a six-month waiting list for the male population.

José Cárdenas: I understand you've got a lot of community partners. Tell us about them.

Ché Collins: We work closely with the community partners. We have Safeway, Bank of America, we partner with the different agencies, the WIA. Our workforce investment boards here. We have department of economic security. So we run an array of partners that we -- that come on our center and actually support what we do. They work hand -- one-on-one with our students. A lot of things we find unique here, our board comes in and actually host workshops on the center for students getting ready to separate and they do, once a, no, we probably do out -- once a month, out of a year, we usually do six workshops, focus on interviewing skills and résumé writing, online application. Because that's big right now. A lot of your employers are doing online applications and they have -- where they also include kind of a psychological makeup. So that's a time -- it's time consuming and for the students we serve, the better prepared they are in how they handle résumés and applications determines how our placement rates end up.

José Cárdenas: And how are the placement rates?

Alvin Ford: Right now 84%, our goal is to place 90% upon exiting. But running about 84%, it's gotten better, I think we've seen a turn in the construction industry and getting more students into the as well. And the -- into the industry as well. And the minority contractors association is part of the board and sit in on the tuck classes we have and give the instructors the new technology.

José Cárdenas: You mentioned construction picking up a little bit. I take it, though, that the downturn in the economy has made your job more difficult.

Alvin Ford: We try to do our job training matches. It's a little bit more difficult when the economy was down. But getting more kids placed into the construction industry now. Which indicates to me we've got an upswing from the construction jobs.

José Cárdenas: Ché, talk about the college aspect of this.

Ché Collins: We offer what we call advanced college training. Any student, who comes on the center, has the opportunity to go into the program. Once they complete their high school diploma, they complete the career technical training program and meet what we call the assessment, TABE. Training adopt basic education. And determines their literary levels, like a placement test when you go to college. It's based on the placement when they go into school so they have to meet certain criteria in order to go into the college program and we probably, I'd say, probably on a yearly basis, probably do 10%-15% of our students go on to the college program.

José Cárdenas: You indicated some of the criteria for the program, one would be low-income status. Tell us what the student group looks like.

Alvin Ford: We've got right now about 42% Hispanic. We've got about 22% African Americans, which includes a number of students from Ethiopia and Somalia and those countries; we have a student makeup of 32 different countries, if you look at it. Running about 12%-13% white Americans. And then about 7% Pacific Islanders.

José Cárdenas: And what I would call the international part of the population are mostly refugees?

Alvin Ford: Right, mostly refugees and some come with basic English skills, some with no English skills and we have an ESL program. English as a second language program. Four entries per year. They learn basic English and there for four months and then go into one of the five phases of training we do.

José Cárdenas: Ché, typically how long would the students be in the Job Corps program?

Ché Collins: On average, probably about a year and a half. Depending -- if a student comes in with their high school diploma, they can probably finish within nine months to a year. If they go on to college program, they can stay in the program for three years. They have to get a high school diploma, they come in and don't have any credits and enter not high school program, normally stay anywhere from a year and a half to two years.

José Cárdenas: We've had the website up on the screen. Is the best place for people to get information.
Alvin Ford:That's the best place to get more information on the program itself.

José Cárdenas: One last question: Tell us about the facility here. You've got a number of different buildings and how many employees?

Alvin Ford: We've got 158 employees that work at the Job Corps center. 518 third avenue South 3rd Avenue. South third street. Sorry. And we've got 250 students and the other half of our students are non-residential that commute back and forth on a daily basis and got the main campus where there's a lot of the educational piece and as well as two of the trades and hard trades are located on the opposite corner and that's where we have the carpentry and masonry --

José Cárdenas: Quite an operation.
Alvin Ford: It's quite an operation.

José Cárdenas: Well, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about it.

Alvin Ford: Thank you.

Ché Collins:Deputy Director; Alvin Ford:Center Director for the Phoenix Job Corps Center;

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