n effect since Jan. 28 and scheduled through the end of the 2012 program, Job Corps' nationwide enrollment freeze was lifted yesterday.
Since the enrollment freeze, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL) has worked with U.S. Rep. Bill Young (R-Pinellas County, FL) and other Congress members in urging the Department of Labor to reconsider the move. Rep. Castor especially expressed serious concerns on the negative impact the enrollment freeze would have on the Pinellas County Job Corps Center, which has capacity to serve more than 300 economically challenged students each year.
"Pinellas Job Corps is a vital resource in our area for students who otherwise might not have opportunities to advance themselves academically and professionally," Rep. Castor said. "The nearly three-month enrollment freeze was an unnecessary setback for Job Corps, especially for the Pinellas location because it opened in 2010 and was still in the beginning stages of establishing itself. But as the economy continues to recover, it is welcome news for teens and young adults who seek the type of quality academic and technical training that leads to quality employment opportunities."
Pinellas Job Corps welcomed its first class in November 2010, after a substantial taxpayer investment of $42 million.
"I expressed to the Department of Labor that after operating for a little more than two years, an enrollment freeze is not the message to send about efficient use of taxpayer dollars," Rep. Castor said. "But most importantly, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that the Job Corps program has on students on local communities, with graduates becoming active residents and contributors to the Tampa Bay economy."
Pinellas Job Corps provides career technical training for areas such as manufacturing, automotive, construction, carpentry, electrical, plumping and health occupations. Students without a high school diploma are automatically enrolled into its GED/high school program. In addition, Pinellas Job Corps provides courses in independent living, employability skills, and social skills in order to help students transition into the workplace.