The Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, dating back to the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps, employ over 3,000 students in rural America each year. The Forest Service program prepares youth from disadvantaged backgrounds for wildland firefighting, as well as other jobs in rural areas. On Friday, the Trump administration announced that the program will be shut down, reports the Washington Post.
The job centers are located in Montana, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Virginia, Washington state, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon, where some of Trump’s strongest supporters are located.
The program’s end will start in September, and will involve one of the largest layoffs of civil servants since 2010.
Overall, the program is being shifted to the Labor Department.
Nine centers will close, and 16 of them will switch to private or state ownership. Other urban-located Job Corp programs will continue to operate. Members from both sides of the aisle in Congress objected to this plan.
Government officials claimed that the Forest Service overhaul was necessary because operations were inefficient, costly, and low-performing.
On Friday morning, Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen addressed hundreds of teachers and staff on a conference call about Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s decision.
When asked by the employees how they would receive their final paychecks, or be formally notified about their job losses, Christiansen replied, “We don’t have all the answers.”
Referring to the federal government’s term for a layoff, reduction in force, Christiansen added, “I know many of you have never heard what a RIF is and all that goes with that. We’re going to work through this together.”
Department of Labor also released a statement shortly after that stated they were “modernizing and reforming part of the Job Corps program.”
“This action creates an opportunity to serve a greater number of students at higher performing centers at a lower cost to taxpayers.”
Many are unhappy with this decision.
Democratic representatives Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.) and Robert C. Scott (Va.) said in a joint statement:
“We are disappointed by the Trump Administration’s decision to turn its back on the youth that depend on the Job Corps program in rural communities. These programs give young people valuable on-the-job experience and training — putting them on the path to a good job while learning about how to conserve and protect our natural resources.”
Representative Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) promised to “remain as a strong advocate for this program,” saying in an email:
“This organization has changed the lives of men and women across the country who otherwise might not have had a chance. Jacobs Creek has given many young people the opportunity to turn around their life, and I hope this will continue for generations to come.