OTTUMWA – Both students and teachers may feel relief after getting the word: The enrollment freeze has been lifted at Job Corps.
Word came early Monday afternoon from Congressman Dave Loebsack's office that the unpopular lock down on new students was ending across the nation. During the freeze, supporters of the center lamented the impact on kids who needed help. But area residents also worried about the promise of employment having a Job Corps center implied. In job-hungry southeast Iowa, the planned 100-plus jobs created a buzz.
Despite a slow but consistent buildup of young people, the freeze kept Ottumwa’s Job Corps site from ever reaching its projected 300 student enrollment, meaning they would not need as many staff members.
The letter to U.S. Senators and members of Congress was short, with the bulk of it saying, “We are pleased to announce that today the Department of Labor is lifting the suspension of enrollment at Job Corps centers, effective immediately. “
It was from the DOL’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. In recent weeks, elected officials in Washington have questioned the wisdom of shutting off the faucet to a program that successfully takes people from public assistance to paycheck.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin was glad for the change in enrollment at Job Corps Centers across the country. A release from his office said Iowa’s two Job Corps Centers – in Denison and Ottumwa – are affected by Monday’s decision.
“I am very pleased that Job Corps centers have reopened their doors to new students. Job Corps helps many young people in Iowa and across the country who were left behind in school get another chance to succeed in the workplace and in life. As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds Job Corps, and as chairman of the committee that oversees the program, I will continue to ensure the program remains accessible for at-risk youth,” Harkin wrote in an email to the Courier.