ONEONTA – The Oneonta Job Corps Academy is part of a 50-year-old federally funded program that is working hard to provide training, support and certification to young adults in Chenango County and four other surrounding counties. This summer there will be events to educate residents in Chenango County about the benefits of OJCA and all that it offers.
While OJCA has been actively serving students from all five counties, there is also the goal to reach out to residents of Chenango County so they can take advantage of all that OJCA has to offer. “I’d like to repay the support of the local community and businesses by serving students of their locale,” said Chris Kuhn, Academy Director. “Our vision is to exceed expectations by improving the living and learning environment for students so they can succeed.”
Job Corps is a nationwide program that provides a second chance to at-risk, disadvantaged youth by providing various high school diploma options, post-secondary credit, leadership development, training in over 100 trades in 11 industries with various certifications, job placement and career/life skills. Kuhn said that OJCA does this by providing holistic, comprehensive training and support in all aspects of students’ lives so they can succeed. OJCA partners with local businesses and employers to ensure that students are acquiring the skills that will lead to employment.
“Chenango County is third in poverty of all the counties (in New York state),” said Lisa Hall, Outreach and Admissions Counselor. “There are jobs in Chenango County that could be filled if our young adults have the right training.”
Hall said that there are automotive jobs and openings in the health field in the county, as well as other fields that need trained workers. OJCA can help locals gain the necessary skillsets in order to qualify, even if they already have a high school diploma.
“Unlocking every student’s potential is very important and we do that on an individual basis,” said Adina Feliu, Business Community Liaison. She and others on staff emphasized how OJCA can serve as a second chance for young adults who may not have succeeded in high school.
There was two and a half million dollars spent to update the facilities. A million dollars of that was spent on renovating and establishing the Sweeny Smart Grid Advanced training program. This also features the state-of-the-art Smart Meter and Instrumentation Technician Lab. These renovations are in conjunction with the inclusion of advanced training and certification in overhead line, underground residential distribution and smart meter reading, which can lead to lucrative jobs after graduation.
Feliu said that one cement mason graduate is currently making $36 an hour. A few former overhead linemen students are even making a six-figure salary.