On May 13, 2021, Byron V. Garrett, President & CEO of the National Job Corps Association, testified before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment regarding the NJCA community’s recommendations for the Job Corps program as part of the upcoming reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The hearing was led by Chairwoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), a longtime Job Corps champion and representative for the Miami Job Corps Center, and Ranking Member Gregory F. Murphy, M.D. (R-NC), a recent addition to the Friends of Job Corps Congressional Caucus.
Chairwoman Wilson started the hearing with the following comments: “Anywhere from 6 to 10 million young people were estimated to be disconnected from school and work at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to roughly 4 million in 2019. WIOA-funded programs are a critical tool to create opportunities for these young people. This bipartisan reauthorization effort is a chance to make important improvements to help ensure they can reach their full potential … I have heard from countless community leaders and residents who credit Job Corps with transforming their lives, which is why I have championed this program throughout my career in public service. I am extremely proud of the Jobs Corps Center in my district—and I have bragging rights—because it was ranked number one in the country in program year 2019 based on performance indicators. Job Corps enjoys widespread bipartisan support, and I hope we can find bipartisan agreement to make it even more effective.”
Overall, the hearing was a great success in highlighting not only the success of the Job Corps program, but also the deep bipartisan congressional support for Job Corps by the participating Subcommittee members. On behalf of NJCA and its members, Mr. Garrett discussed a number of Job Corps priorities including restarting enrollments, streamlining the admissions process, drug testing and the zero tolerance policy, staff compensation, greater operator flexibility, and being more responsive to student needs and goals as well as employers and local labor markets.
NJCA staff, in partnership with the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Strategic Advisory Group, worked with Democratic and Republican members of the Subcommittee to draft questions and statements in support of the Job Corps program. The following Subcommittee members made positive statements or asked questions about the program: Reps. Wilson, Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Kathy E. Manning (D-NC), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Bob Good (R-VA), and Lisa C. McClain (R-MI), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). More than half of the Subcommittee members who attended the hearing posed questions or statements in support of Job Corps, a true mark of the bipartisan support the program enjoys.