If you are between the ages of 16 and 24 consider what an education means to the amount of money you have in your pocket and bank account. The Economic Policy Institute says, "In 2010, the unemployment rate for workers age 16-24 was 18.4%—the worst on record in the 60 years that this data has been tracked." Additionally in 2010, "Young high school graduates have been hardest hit: The unemployment rate for high school graduates under age 25 who were not enrolled in school was 22.5%, compared with 9.3% for college graduates of the same age."

Salary expectations by education level (2010).
Less than high school $444.00 per week / 14.9% unemployment
High school  $626.00 per week / 10.3%
Some college  $712.00 per week / 9.2%
Associates degree $767.00 per week / 7.0%
Bachelors degree $1,038 per week / 5.4%
Masters degree $1,272 per week / 4.0%
Professional degree $1,610 per week / 2.4%
Doctoral degree $1,550 per week / 1.9%
Source: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

2011 Unemployment rates by education level.
Unemployment rate for those with no high school diploma: 14.3%
Unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma: 9.6%
Unemployment rate for those with some college: 8.2%
Unemployment rate for those with a college diploma: 4.3%
Source: August 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-4

Ok, so that is the bad news for 16-24 year olds without a high school education, trade skills, or a college degree. What does it cost to go to a trade school or college? As of 2011, the average cost for a 4 year public university is about $10,000.00 while the average cost for trade school is $345.00 to $575.00 per credit with 65-124 credit needed. How can you afford this training?

Is Job Corps the "secret" scholarship?
Job Corps was originally created in the 1960s to assist economically disadvantaged young males in learning a trade and getting a job. Today, Job Corps is open to both men and women; graduates of Job Corps programs are actively sought in many industries because they reduce training time and are "job ready". Who hires Job Corps graduates? How about Lady GaGa and state governments for example! (See below)

The first thing you find out when you explore the educational grants from
Job Corps is that few people completely understand the myriad of benefits this nearly 40 year old federal program offers 16-24 year olds. In fact when people explore Job Corps they are often surprised by how much assistance is readily available. The name Job Corps may even be a little misleading. Yes, it is all about jobs, but it isn't simply a placement service or referral program. It isn't just for those without a high school diploma. In a sense Job Corps is your generous uncle eager to send you to college.

Why consider Job Corps?
Job Corps has two programs in particular that pay for your education which you need to know about. The first program is for those who want to complete their high school education or GED while learning a marketable, high demand trade. Completers, as
Job Corps graduates are called, complete both of these at the same time and leave with a high school education and certificates showing they have demonstrated ability in their specific trade.

If you already have a high school diploma, consider their college program. What does a typical scholarship from the
Pittsburgh Job Corps include? Job Corps can tell you what kind of assistance you qualify for such as help with the cost of your tuition and books, money for clothing, bus passes, housing and food if applicable, a monthly cash allowance, and a $1,200.00 cash bonus after you've completed school.

Additional benefits Job Corps offers.
In each program students are given training that makes them more likely to be employed. They learn to make themselves marketable with resumes, interviewing techniques, and job searching skills. Money used to prepare you for a job is not required to be paid back.

Students can apply to live on campus or commute during their education and training. Many students choose to live on campus due to their own personal circumstance, however, you do not need to live on campus in order to still participate in the Job Corps programs.

What Job Corps looks like from the inside.
In researching the Job Corps online you may find opposing views of the quality of life on campus. That is what encouraged me to go see it for myself. The extensive tour I took of the Pittsburgh Job Corps campus, along with Chris Cavendish, a Job Developer for the Pittsburgh Job Corps, included the wellness center, dorms, classrooms, recreation areas, and various job training areas. One complaint posted online was a safety concern, which didn't seem justified after my visit. During the time I spent there I was able to watch student interacting in class and in skills training and noted a comfortable atmosphere. There also seemed to be a strong staff presence in each building and around the campus. Additionally, the Pittsburgh Job Corps conducts a regularly scheduled open house where you can visit and see the facility for yourself.

Several Job Corps representatives have said of student's participation "Your time with Job Corps will be what you make of it". I could certainly see what they meant by that. While the infrastructure the Job Corps has in place can support a student's personal situation and education goals, the student still needs to do the same academic work that any high school or college student would normally expect to do.

Why should the community care about Job Corps?
While touring the Delaware Valley Job Corps Center in February 2011
Congressman Maurice Hinchey of New York says that "For every one of the 1.2 million teenage dropouts each year, the long-term cost to the American taxpayer is $469,200.00 - to cover the decreased earnings, lost tax revenues, public health care expenses, crime-related costs and increased welfare benefits. Over the next decade, American taxpayers will have to pay over $3 trillion to cover these costs and that does not factor in the personal costs to our youth. Job Corps only costs $26,000.00 per student. So we can invest in job skills training now, or pay nearly 20 times the cost of that training in welfare, public financed health care, and prison later."

Why businesses would hire Job Corps Completers.
Ultimately, it is the Job Corps mission to turn a student into a "completer"; someone who finishes the program and is ready to go to work, the military, or higher education. Job Corps invests heavily in training students to become job ready. What does the community get for that investment? Dottie Sweeney, Business Community Liaison for the
Pittsburgh Job Corps campus, says the community wins because Completers have the job skills that are in high demand; this quickly turns Job Corps graduates into tax payers as they start new jobs. Students are trained with modern equipment and techniques and leave with an education and demonstrated competency in their trade making them highly desirable job candidates.

Want to learn more?
Many Job Corps Completers have gone on to be quite successful and continue to praise the help they received from Job Corps. Examples are Lady GaGa's manager Troy Carter and Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio A. Gutierrez. The
Pittsburgh Job Corps holds an open house the first Friday of every month at 10am. Both students and their parents are welcome.

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