At a time when the country is busy executing several major wildfire and hurricane recovery operations, the Department of Labor (DOL) Job Corps administration is set to close several facilities that provide auxiliary manpower for wildland firefighting and disaster recovery operations. Citing budget concerns, the Job Corps facility in Golconda, Illinois is slated as the first to go and more closures around the country are under consideration.
The Job Corps facilities, officially called Civilian Conservation Centers (CCC), provide young people with classroom and hands-on job training that lead to apprenticeships and other gainful employment. Many of the CCC participants come from areas with limited resources, such as rural and poorer inner-city communities. In times of need, CCC participants are cross-trained and are currently deployed as disaster first responders offering wildland firefighting, search and rescue, and recovery and resilience operations.
“It is very hard to justify this kind of divestiture in America and in our young people,” cautioned Randy Erwin, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). “The CCC’s have lit the way for tens of thousands to discover their talents and find solid employment, which ultimately adds to the tax revenue of the country. The decisions to close these facilities is a very myopic choice that will negatively impact the long-term national strategy of reducing unemployment and under-employment for the most susceptible of America’s youth.”
The city of Golconda, an Illinois municipality of approximately 800 residents, also will feel the impact of the closure if local jobs at the site are lost. U.S. Senators Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Representative John Shimkus wrote a joint letter to the Office of Job Corps at DOL but has yet to receive a response to questions regarding the future of the Golconda facility.
“Now is the time to act to convince Job Corps to keep the Golconda center open and stop future closures,” Erwin continued. “We encourage everyone who values job training and opportunities for America’s most vulnerable youth to take a stand today. The CCC’s provide the skills needed to improve the lives of thousands every year, and the participants give back to the country as first responders and future taxpayers.”