Welcome to Grit Nation, The Building Trades Podcast.
I’m Joe Cadwell the writer, producer, and host of the show and on today’s episode I will be looking into the origins and mission of the largest residential career training program in the United States, the Job Corps.
Since 1964 the Job Corps has assisted over 2 million people between the ages of 16 and 24 in finding meaningful careers, in fields as varied as construction, the culinary arts and homeland security.
To assist me in better understanding this program, I have invited two Job Corps instructors onto the show,
Rich Evanuik and Tizzy Snelson.
We’ll open our conversation by understanding the origins of the Job Corps and who the typical Job Corps student is.
Next, we’ll investigate the “hard skills” which are taught at Job Corps facilities and how Tizzy and Rich are able to overcome social, educational and generational barriers to better connect with their students.
Later we’ll unpack the relationship the United Brotherhood of Carpenters has with the Jobs Corps and why this collaboration is so important in meeting the workforce demands of a booming economy, and how the Job Corps graduates are part of the equation in filling the ever-widening skills gap in the building trades.
And we’ll end our conversation by learning how those interested in the Job Corps can turn the skills and education they receive into a career and future they can be proud of.
The Show Notes
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Welcome Grit Nation, the Building Trades Podcast. I'm Joe Cadwell, the writer, producer and host of the show. Now on today's episode, I will be looking into the origins and mission of the largest residential career training program in the United States the Job Corps since 1964, the Job Corps has assisted over 2 million people between the ages of 16 and 24. In finding meaningful careers, and fields as varied as construction, the culinary arts and homeland security. This gives me in better understanding this program, I've invited two Job Corps instructors onto the show, Rich Evanuik and Tizzy Snelson will open our conversation by understanding the origins of the Job Corps, and who the typical Job Corps student is. Next, we'll investigate the hard skills which are taught at Job Corps facilities, and how Tizzy and rich are able to overcome social, educational and generational barriers to better connect with our students. Later, one pack the relationship the United Brotherhood of Carpenters has with the Job Corps, and why this collaboration is so important in meeting the workforce demands of a booming economy, and how the Job Corps graduates are part of the equation in filling the ever widening skills gap in the building trades. And wonder conversation by learning how those interested in the job corps can turn the skills and education they receive into a career and future they can be proud of. After the show, check out the show notes where you can find more information to help you dive deeper into the subject. And now on to the show. Tizzy and rich Welcome to grit.Tizzy Snelson:
Happy to be here. Joe, thank you so much.Rich Evonuik:
It's a great pleasure to be here. I love your show, Joe.Joe Cadwell:
Well, thank you so much for taking your time to be on the show. And I realized I don't do a whole lot of conversations with with two or more folks. So please be patient with me. But I'm really, really excited to to bring more information to the listeners about the Job Corps, the history of the Job Corps, the mission of the Job Corps and your roles within the Job Corps. So who would like to start off the conversation this morning?Rich Evonuik:
Joe, I'd be more than happy to a Job Corps was was started conceived back in 1964. Under the Johnson administration as part of the war on poverty, they sought to expand the economic and social opportunities of America, especially minorities and for the poor. So it's been around for 57 years, the carpentry program is has been part of Job Corps for the last 53 years.Joe Cadwell:
And when you say it was developed to sort of push back against poverty, who who is your typical applicant? What are the demographics of the folks that come to Job Corps,Rich Evonuik:
it helps the use 16 to 24 to improve their quality of lives. help empower them, and they're looking to give them some independence and be you know, part of the the workforceJoe Cadwell:
today, how did you first get involved with the Job Corps.Tizzy Snelson:
I joined Job Corps, October 31 2016. And I was introduced to it by Teresa Downey, who was at The Astoria Job Corps we met on a plane going to a woman built a nation site says what's Job Corps. And she explained to me, she invited me to come up during some downtime. And I thought, Man, this is the greatest job in the world.Joe Cadwell:
And that was sort of my reaction to Tizzy when I first heard about Job Corps, what's Job Corps? And in doing some research, I realized that Job Corps Yeah, is spread out all across the US and that here in the Pacific Northwest, it looks like we have around 14 Different Job Corps locations 10 of which actually work with the carpenter craft. But my understanding of Job Corps is it's just not about carpentry. It's it's really designed to allow people to get the skills and education so that they can get the career that they want, what other skills are involved what we'll focus later on carpentry and specific but what other skills are you aware of that Job Corps preps preps these young people for?Rich Evonuik:
Well, Joe, we have we worked with several different what they call them hard trades. Welding. We have construction craft laborers, we have the cement masons, up here at at Wolf Creek, there are the painting, crafts, culinary, automotive, pretty much anything that you can think of each center has their own identity with with different sets of training. So we're all different, but we're all the same.Joe Cadwell:
And so specifically, you're down at Wolf Creek and Tizi you're at Angels camp, correct.Tizzy Snelson:
I am an angel and it is a civilian conservation center. We have just hard trades here. Auto painting, welding, urban forestry and brick masonry.Joe Cadwell:
You see they have other other areas, though that maybe aren't at your particular training center, but things like Homeland Security, hospitality, the IT information technologies, finance and business. Oh, so the Job Corps really is sort of a broad spectrum of career choices that these young individuals can can jump on into. So again, getting back into it, you said somewhere between 16 and 24, is your typical applicant to Job Corps. How do they find the Job Corps what leads them to your door,Rich Evonuik:
I'm a Job Corps graduate Joe. And the way I found it, through the employment office I graduated from from high school in Eugene, and I didn't want to go to college, I wanted to learn something else I wanted to career. So I found that out and I found out about an at the employment office and went through the steps with now it's called Desi. All they have to do is go to the employment office, there are brochures down there. And basically, if you're between 16, and 24, anyone can qualify. Joe, I've had students here whose parents were brain surgeons. So it's obviously is not economics. It's most of the students we get are coming in to get a GED or a high school diploma because they couldn't, they didn't like high school, they left early. And when they come into our program, they'll get a GED, they get their driver's license, and they have an opportunity to to learn a good trade and in our parks and carpentry, we feel that they'll that they'll make the cut, that they're the right, right person. Hopefully, we get them into the UBCTizzy Snelson:
and our Art Center, Joe, we are a tier one education. So they get a high school diploma and not just a GED. And part of our criteria for them graduating, they get the high school diploma, they complete their trade. And we provide them with a driver's license. So we have a driver's license division hear that they learn how to drive and trade. So we really try and set them up for success in in every way. Education, trade and a way to get to work.Joe Cadwell:
Yeah, so it sounds like you're introducing them to the hard skills of a particular craft. And also, you're working again, I think you said you're mentoring and modeling behaviors and establishing work ethics, the ability to get along with other people and beginning to explore who they are as as young adults. And that's it that's got to be a real tough nut to crack. And I'm just wondering what techniques you use in order to develop the trust and communication I know myself trying to talk to some of the younger apprentices at PNC eye, they look at me and my mid to upper 50s. And we don't have a whole lot in common right off the bat. But in and I only see these folks for a short period of time you're living with them it sounds like 24/7 for weeks on end or years on end. So how do you develop these these, this level of trust TizzyTizzy Snelson:
building trust is probably the best buy in, they come in they you know, honestly, they haven't seen the brightest shiny is to life conditions. So trust issues, if you can, if you can develop that trust, and they can feel your union pride, I raise my hand every time I tell them I took my union oath I raised my hand because that's how much love that I have and the opportunities that I have is based on what the UBC has given me and what I have worked for the grit it took to get to where I am today building trust and the buy in that they're there wanted needed in the workforceJoe Cadwell:
that they have value and again I think Rich said it earlier it doesn't matter what where they come from what end of the economic spectrum they can you know be coming from they could be a brain surgeons child well maybe the brain surgeon they're they're so a type personalities are so driven that family is taken a backseat and maybe they you know they may be neglected as a youth and never had a connection with with their parent. Rich. What do you use? How do you get to make those connections make those bonds with these these people come into your your center.Rich Evonuik:
The with me personally, I am just myself. I get right in there with the students I make. I'll make fun of myself. In front of all the students I am kind of the grandfather figure. I get right in there. with them, like because he was saying is earning their trust, where just like you would on a job site Joe, you, you become real close with the people that you work with. You get to know their moves to get to know their personalities. And once you've established that, then then they'll they'll buy in. I buy into each and every one of my students, they all have different qualities that are excellent. And watching them grow. There. The students also have trust in one another, and work with each other. They are team I know that my students when the end of the day, they wait until all the students are ready to go and they all leave together. And they all walk down to the dining hall together because they're all carpenter students. So they are one and they're pretty darn proud of that.Joe Cadwell:
Yeah, that's you're building camaraderie there and, and a fellowship and a like you say it's got to be incredibly gratifying for the both of you to be to invest so much of yourself into these people see them become successful, it's got to be equally heartbreaking when when you really invest a lot and someone doesn't make the cut. But for those that that do, it's just got to be just an amazing reward I have yet to be in a position at PNC, I think I have another year before I begin to see some of the fledgling apprentices the first and second term that I helped with their intro class, or maybe their construction, math and Blueprint Class, get to a point where they're going to be graduating where they've made it to night term, and they're ready to journey out. And I'm looking forward to that, that seeing them cross the stage get their diploma, and knowing that I did my part to make them successful in career as a professional carpenter. twosieTizzy Snelson:
just a super quick story. I was at the ITC, and I'm in the dining hall. I see President McCarran and I wanted my picture taken with him badly. So I'm getting my picture taken. I introduced myself, I said, Job Corps instructor. And his response is to my cord, teaching and patience and struggles and wins and losses. He didn't say you're bringing in more carpenters to our union. His statement was simply you. Job Corps is changing a lot of people's lives.Joe Cadwell:
Now quick break in the action for a word from our sponsor. Today's episode is brought to you by our friends over at Union Home Plus, union Home Plus has been in the business since 2002. Helping Northwest carpenter families just like yours save money when they buy, sell or finance their home. If you've been listening the show for a while, you've probably heard me talk with Patrick Towne, the director of operations over at Union Homeplus. Patrick and his team of finance or real estate professionals are dedicated to helping you make the right decisions with what many consider to be the cornerstone of the American Dream Homeownership. For more information, be sure to check out the show notes and today's episode, or visit union Home Plus dot o RG on the web union Home Plus helping Northwest carpenter families find their way home for nearly 20 years. And now back to the show. There you go. It's fantastic. Kevin from the general president. And and if you don't know, the ITC is the International Training Center, our flagship training center for the UBC and it's located in Las Vegas. So finally, you know, we have talked about transitioning out of the program and sending them over to either PN CI or the next step. But what are some of the biggest transitional steps you see, for these folks that have graduated from the Job Corps and now we're trying to make it in the in the trades, whether it is union, preferably or non union, what are some of the biggest challenges they have?Rich Evonuik:
But I'll jump into that. Joe, the on the on the union side. My students are are overwhelmed. There's there's I'm sure that he does. He does this too, but we teach him about things the difference between a local regional council the International, we talked about dues, we talked about mixed 2020 We talked about jobs Stewart's and there's so many aspects of the UBC is kind of overwhelming for him. And they they they feel a little bit intimidated. So I tried to I tried to make it as common for them as possible. We sit we both sit on the JTC board, which is the I'm sorry, I forget what the acrimoniousJoe Cadwell:
join apprentice training committee.Rich Evonuik:
And thank you, Joe. These These folks are young and new, and they feel they feel Like, they aren't deserving. So it's it's a constant battle to reassure them that they're coming in as a first term apprentice, that they're going to know a lot more than most coming in first term apprentice, they've had two years to think about it and work towards it. And so it's a big huge deal for him, as opposed to somebody hearing about the UBC and walking radian and going to work maybe a month later, they haven't had that amount of time to buy in and work towards it. So this is, this is the, the finish line for them and just started their life. So those those are challenges for them going in there. They're, they're scared to death walking onto the job site. So once they get past that, then they then they do okay. It's just that first initial first job, where do I stay? How do I get there? Who's going to help me? Am I going to have a journeyman or another apprentice working with me? Am I going to be by myself? Am I going to act? ask too many questions. So so there's there's a lot of concerns they have going in?Joe Cadwell:
Sure I can, I can understand that. I often liken it to my intro class students, it's almost drinking from a firehose, there's so much coming your way. And you really have to, you know, know what to focus on and what to kind of let wash over you tizzy. What do you say? What are some of the biggest challenges you you see for your folks who are leaving the nest, so to speak,Tizzy Snelson:
money, and a car and a place to live? If they don't go out on what Rich mentioned, fire detail camp crew fire crew, they will leave here and it's less than $2,000 that they will get if they complete their high school diploma and complete the job corps program. I think it's $1,600. That's not a first and last month deposit. That's not even a first car to get you there. And and some of our students don't have a home to go home to. I think that I think money is the biggest challenge. I think we could improve we teach positive jobsite culture here. But we all know want to portray that positive jobsite culture. Maybe a little harsher than what they're used to. And I believe our our brothers and sisters could could step up in the honor of being a mentor, the mentor ship of the first second third term apprentices, mentorship and the the positive job site cultures. Really,Joe Cadwell:
I agree wholeheartedly. And again, one reason why I'm so proud to work with the Pacific Northwest carpenters Institute, knowing that we have put such an emphasis on the positive jobsite culture. In fact, my boss, my cause is responsible for starting that program and really rolling it out to a lot of the area contractors. And it is education that is directed towards the upper management to the journey level workers that yes, you know, these green apprentices, or shades of green apprentices are our future, and that we really need to do our best to, to build them to be the best carpenters that they can be so that they can continue on the proud traditions that we we have. So there's a lot lot going on there. But yeah, it's a tough road to hoe for sure. So what can we do to inspire anyone who's listening to this podcast who may either be interested in joining the the the Job Corps or themselves or know someone that may be a good fit for the for the Job Corps? Where would they go?Rich Evonuik:
I would start off with going ahead and Googling Job Corps have an idea of what you might want to do and where you might want to be a lot of my students are from out of the area, they want to get away from that area. So there's a lot of opportunities, like you were saying earlier, there's a there's a dozen centers within our Regional CouncilJoe Cadwell:
tizzy. Any words of advice for those who are interested in a job corps and again, keeping in mind that I'm happy to say my podcast is being listened to all across the US. So it's not just specific to to the northwest or Oregon, but to all across the US. If you're interested in the job corps, where would you recommend people go to I agreeTizzy Snelson:
with rich and just just hit that website?Joe Cadwell:
Yeah, I am the one that that was perusing that website earlier, and I just cannot believe this is a part of the government web. sight. This is one of the cleanest, most interactive, well done websites I think I've come across. I'm really, really impressed with the Job Corps website. It's at Job Corps with an s.gov. So that's Job Corps with an s.gov. And I will make sure to put that in the show notes. Bridge dizziest has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for taking your time to be on the show with me today. And I look forward to to seeing you and hopefully coming down to visit your locations here in the not too distant futureTizzy Snelson:
cabin for crabbing seasonRich Evonuik:
that Joe, thank you so much for having me. Like I said, I listened to your show my students listen to show all the time and I really appreciate you taking the time to share our story.Joe Cadwell:
I guess they have been Rich Evanuik and Tizzy Snelson. Be sure to check out the show notes where you can find more resources to help you dive deeper into this topic.