Appalachia’s Job Corps centers will remain open, for now.
In late May, the Trump administration announced that 16 Job Corps centers run by the U.S. Forest Service would be privatized and nine — including four in Appalachia — would be shuttered.
On June 19, after public and political backlash, the administration reversed its decision. A federal spokesperson told Federal News Network that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Labor would conduct a review of Job Corps.
The threatened facilities, known as Civilian Conservation Centers, developed out of a partnership between the Forest Service and the Department of Labor. They specialize in teaching natural resource management skills to youth aged 16 to 24.
Historically, many Civilian Conservation Center students lack a high school degree and vocational qualifications. The centers offer coursework in health services, information technology and the construction trades, among other fields. Students may also earn a GED. The Flatwoods center in Coeburn, Va., recently began instructing students in solar energy equipment installation.
The Jobs Corps ranks Flatwoods sixth out of 125 total centers. Yet it was among the centers slated for closure along with those in Frenchburg, Ky., Pine Knot, Ky., and Oconaluftee, N.C. Each ranked in the top half of all Job Corps facilities for performance.
Previously, the Department of Labor needed to have a five-year dataset to measure the quality of a center when considering closure. It also had to consider the effect a closing would have on the geographic availability and socioeconomic diversity of Job Corps services. This is no longer the case under the new rules, which allow the agency to “propose a center for deactivation or repurposing” to further “broad reform and streamlining efforts.” — By Maxwell Johnson