Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Pennsylvania Democratic US Senate candidate and Congressman Joe Sestak used a stop in Pittsburgh Monday to talk about new legislation aimed at increasing the number of women who enroll in the nation’s Job Corps Centers. Sestak notes that in Pittsburgh 62% of the slots are set aside for women but only 75% of those slots are filled. He says more than $125 million get wasted every year nation-wide by not filling all of the available positions. He says with the trainers and facilities in place it takes no additional money to add the extra women. However, Sestak says it will take a few million extra dollars to attract the female participants. The federal Job Corps program is up for reauthorization this year and Sestak has added a few funding line items to the bill. The congressman says there are three key issues that need to be addressed. He says the types of training being offered need to be more to the liking of unemployed women such as medical and dental assistants and clerical skills rather than welding and machining. His legislation would set aside $18.3 million to target female-oriented careers. He says too many women who could use the training do not know about it at all or do not fully understand what is being offered. The measure includes funding to create a virtual or video tour of each center that can be placed on line or taken out by recruiters to places where the potential clients gather. Sestak says women often are concerned about their living arraignments while at the Job Corps Centers and are worried that their children will not be welcomed and cared for while they are in residence. Sestak says the videos can help put aside those fears. He says centers that have created their own videos have seen jumps in female enrollment. Finally, Sestak says more money needs to be put into the childcare facilities at the centers. His bill would spend $10 million doing that and at the same time upgrading the female living quarters. Sestak says, "At a time when 1 in 4 teenagers is unemployed, we can't afford to under-utilize a program that gives economically disadvantaged youth the skills they need to compete and succeed in today's workforce. The under enrollment of female students in Jobs Corps represents a lost opportunity to help thousands of young people transition into the workplace." According to Sestak the Pittsburgh Job Corps Center is currently 124 students below its targeted female enrollment.