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November 3, 2008    DOL Home > Newsroom > Speeches & Remarks   

Speeches by Secretary Elaine L. Chao

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Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao
Cleveland Job Corps Center Open House
Cleveland, Ohio
Monday, May 5, 2008

Thank you, Esther [Johnson, National Director, Office of Job Corps] for that introduction. 

Let me also acknowledge Senator Voinovich [George Voinovich, R-Ohio] for being here.  You are doing such a great job for the people of Ohio!

Welcome, all of you — students, faculty, operators, and honored guests — to the new Cleveland Job Corps Center! 

I’m so pleased that today’s open house has given you the opportunity to see the wonderful work Job Corps does on behalf of young people.

This afternoon, I’d like to talk about the role Job Corps plays in the Department of Labor’s goal to prepare workers for jobs in the new economy.  Then I’d like to tell you a bit about this new Cleveland center, and our commitment to strengthening Job Corps.

Our economy is currently experiencing some challenges due to the housing and credit markets.  However, the long term prospects for our economy remain strong.

Our economy continues to create opportunities, but the majority of these opportunities are for workers with education and training beyond high school.  In the next decade, close to two-thirds of the estimated 15.6 million net new jobs created in the U.S. will be in occupations that require at least some post-secondary education or considerable on-the-job training. 
This is great news for our Job Corps students who earn their high school diploma or GED and train for jobs at centers such as this one.  That’s because not all of the fast-growing occupations out there require a four-year college degree.  Many of these opportunities are for workers with two-year degrees from community colleges.  And, for workers who participate in long-term, on-the-job training.

A two-year degree can qualify workers for solid, well-paying careers in high-growth occupations.  In fact, in 2006, the median annual wage for jobs typically requiring an associate degree was just over $50,000!  And for jobs typically requiring long-term on-the-job training, that figure was over $37,000.  So, the Job Corps students are prepared for career paths that can help them build a family and a future. 

This beautiful Cleveland facility is just one of 122 centers that assist 65,000 youth in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  It builds upon the good work being done at the original Job Corps Cleveland facility, and the Dayton and Cincinnati centers.  All three centers have placed at-promise youth on a more positive path and given them an opportunity to focus on career goals.  And, these centers will continue to be there for future generations of youth.

This new $35 million center rests on a 25-acre campus.  It has nine buildings that house education and training classrooms, residence halls, and recreational facilities.  In all, the center can provide 440 students with the latest tools and technology to help students make the most of their education and training. 

As I mentioned, this center connects students with education and training that is truly relevant to employer needs.  This includes areas such as business technology, healthcare, construction, and off-site training in child development and security services.  The center’s academic and training programs are rigorous, effective, and accredited so students’ skills are recognized by the state’s top employers when they graduate.

As many of you know, the success of our training programs relies heavily on meaningful partnerships.  The Cuyahoga Community College, the Cleveland Clinic, and our valued partners in organized labor all deserve a special thanks for the impact they have on students’ progress.  And, let me also point out that the Cleveland/Cuyahoga One-Stop Career Center was recently awarded over $2.4 million in grant money as part of the President’s Community-Based Job Training Initiative.  The goal of these grants is to help prepare students for careers in high-growth industries.  So, congratulations to them!

Let me also note that the Department works very hard to ensure that its Job Corps Centers are state of the art facilities appropriate to their mission.  We don’t want the ambitions of our young people to be limited by aging facilities.  Instead, we strive to give students the very best in terms of academics, technical training, recreational opportunities, and accommodations. 

It may surprise you to learn that it is quite common to relocate Job Corps Centers to modernize them.  The Department currently has plans to relocate Job Corps Centers from older sites to new campuses in Atlanta, Georgia and Little Rock, Arkansas. 

The New Orleans Job Corps Center is another recent example.  In that case, an older center was relocated across the street to a modern facility.  But before students could be transferred, Hurricane Katrina struck and seriously damaged the buildings.  Last August after the rebuilding, I was pleased to join Esther Johnson, other officials, and the New Orleans community to welcome students and staff to the new facility.

The outpouring of support for Job Corps from the communities they serve is always inspiring.  In late February, I had the pleasure of visiting Florida to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony for the first-ever Pinellas County Job Corps Center.  Over 100 community members, elected officials and members of the public attended.  And today, we see the same expression of support from our colleagues and friends in Cleveland.

Looking ahead, there are many opportunities where we can build upon the strengths of Job Corps.  With that being said, I want to thank the members of the Advisory Committee on Job Corps for their soon to be released report on how to improve Job Corps.  We look forward to reading and analyzing their recommendations in the days ahead.

So let me thank each and every one of you for your commitment to the lives of our youth in Cleveland and all over Ohio.  Your hard work, interest, and support have made the updated Cleveland campus an essential part of our national network.  And, it will help so many young people find hope and opportunity at an important time in their lives.


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