Enrollment resumes at Job Corps centers

Enrollment is back on at the Ottumwa Job Corps center and centers like it around the country.

The Department of Labor announced Monday that the enrollment freeze in place since January 28, 2013 would be lifted earlier than the anticipated June 30th date. The lifting of the freeze was effective immediately following the announcement Monday.

Besides for a few notable exceptions, the Ottumwa Job Corps Center has not been able to take in any students since January, and now stands at 180 trainees enrolled out of a possible capacity of 300.

"It's been a rocky road," said Mark Douglas, Center Director at the Ottumwa Job Corps, at a Community Relations Council Meeting Tuesday. "Hopefully, we've found the bottom of the barrel and this has stopped."

Douglas said that nationally, enrollment has reduced by 20 percent, which is around 12,000 students. At the Ottumwa Job Corps specifically, they house 63 students short of capacity.

"The Department of Labor has put a cap of 237 trainees, or students, here on the center," said Dave Humburg, Business and Community Liaison for the Ottumwa Job Corps Center. "We originally were contracted for 300. I would like to see that cap taken off and us get back to where we can serve the 300 trainees that we were originally designed to serve. So we've got a buildup plan that we've submitted to the Job Corps regional office and we're just waiting for approval."

On top of not being able to enroll students since January, the Ottumwa center also had to lay off staff to meet with the budget restrictions. Rehiring most or all of them is part of that buildup plan.

Humburg also thanked Congressman Dave Loebsack and Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley for their support, as well as the community for writing letters and expressing how important Job Corps is to the youth in Iowa and across the country.