CLEARFIELD -- After experiencing an enrollment freeze for several months earlier this year because of budget cuts, Utah Job Corps, with two centers in northern Utah - Clearfield and Ogden -- have lost a lot of their student population.
Now, the group is trying to fill the available slots.
Of concern to Job Corps officials is the drastic decline in female enrollment. Once the enrollment freeze was lifted in April, Director for Corporate Communications Issa Arnita said their administration noticed the alarming numbers.
"During those months (of the enrollment freeze), we had a lot of students graduate, and now we have a lot of openings for female students," Arnita said. The enrollment is to the tune of 213 slots that have already been paid for by the Department of Labor for qualifying females ages 16 to 24.
Before the enrollment freeze, men and women alike had to wait several months to get into the program, but now women who qualify can be enrolled in a matter of weeks.
"This program is funded, and students aren't taking advantage of what is in their backyard with teachers and resources," Arnita said. "Job Corps is created for disadvantaged people who just did not do well in high school or graduate with a diploma, and others who have graduated from high school, but don't have the money for college, or don't know what to do next with their career."
The Job Corps centers in Utah have been open for nearly 50 years, with 1,500 students graduating annually. They have 20 different career paths options, including culinary arts, carpentry, automotive, welding, health occupations, plumbing and office administration.
Seven months ago, 20-year-old Lyndsey Alexander of Layton struggled to find a job without a high-school diploma, having dropped out because of bullying. She enrolled in Job Corps and now has her GED, a driver's license and is planning to attend an advanced electrical program out of state.
"It's amazing because seven months ago, I didn't have anything, and now I can't believe all that I got done in less than a year," Alexander said. "It has changed my life a lot and boosted my confidence."
Arnita said the experience students gain from Job Corps is invaluable for their future.
"When we go to work, we feel fulfilled knowing we are providing for ourselves," Arnita said. "When younger people don't grow up with a career or skills, they may have to receive government help. More than 80 percent of the students here end up finding a great job or go on to higher education."
Nineteen-year-old Kehaulani Flanders, of Syracuse, was working in a fast-food restaurant a year ago and wondered what to do next with her life. She found herself at Job Corps and will soon graduate from the office administration and business technology program with plans to attend Weber State University.
"It's been really great because I've learned a lot of professional and technical skills I can use in the business world," Flanders said. "My parents would be a bit frustrated with me if I wasn't here, since I was trying to apply for a lot of other jobs, but wasn't getting anywhere, only getting paid minimum wage, but being here is a lot better situation."
While in the program, students live on campus and learn some valuable life skills, Arnita said.
"For most of them, it is a transitional period, and some have a really hard time, but once they realize the benefits this will give them in life," Arnita said, "they take off running and it changes people's lives."
For more information on enrollment, call 801-693-2902 or visit www.jobcorps.gov.