One on One is a weekly feature offering excerpts of interview conducted by The Evening Sun with newsworthy business leaders. Arvin F. Lane is the director of the Woodstock Job Corps Center in Randallstown, a federally funded, residential job-training facility. It is one of two Job Corps centers in the state, and 106 nationwide. About 500 students, aged 16 to 21, are enrolled, learning 13 vocational skills at the wooded campus in Randallstown.
Q. When many people think of vocational training, they think of commuter schools and apprenticeship programs where students learn a specific, job-related skill. Jobs Corps, however, seems different for a number of reasons. Tell me what you do here.
A. Job Corps is totally different from any other job training program because it is residential. The purpose of Job Corps is to take the individual out of the environment that they're in because a lot of our students come from poverty-stricken, disadvantaged locations, and part of training the student, Job Corps has discovered, is to get them away from that environment. About 30 percent of my young ladies here are already mothers, so we look at how we can take this young person and help them develop and become successful.
Q. And that goes beyond just job skills. What else do you teach here?
A. We teach basic education skills or assist our young people in getting a GED or Maryland high school diploma.
Q. And you also focus on some social development and leadership skills?
A. Yes. Our students do counseling sessions on Tuesdays and Thursday, and in these sessions they get to learn and develop social skills and talk about the problems of society and how they can then go about coping with them. We have a substance-abuse session, we have one on parenting, we have a pregnancy program. We have a linkage with Baltimore County Police officers where they come out twice a month and they do presentations on young people becoming more orientated toward community and citizenship. . . . Job Corps also is unique in that we have incentives, so we're incentive orientated, that you reward students every step that they make. We have a phase system. The moment a student arrives on Job Corps and after the first 30 days they can then advance to Phase One, Phase Two, Phase Three, Master Program or Honor Student or Master Student. We've found this promotes good self-esteem.
Q. Once a student is accepted here, they become a resident and get medical care, dental care, food?
A. The works. Three meals a day including a snack. They also get a readjustment allowance. Our students basically begin with a $44-a-month stipend for the first three months they're here, then we increase it to $60 a month. After six months, they reach the $80 dollar maximum. One of the pluses or perks in it is that we have an escalating pay scale for students who will maintain higher phases through incentives. There are many different ways where students can advance and receive the incentives.
Q. Tell me a little bit about the students.
A. Basically, unemployed youths. Half of the students here, 27, ,, now have high school diplomas; however, they found that in applying for jobs they had limited skills, the job market skills they had were not enough to get them a job and they were referred to us through either a employment service or through recruitment agencies. My students come to me from really five different states -- Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The average student who comes to me is 17 1/2 years of age, has dropped out of school between the seventh and the ninth grade, comes from a single-parent home where the mother is the primary person in the house. This child has gone out and looked for a job, was told he didn't have the educational background, didn't have the skills, and was referred to us.
Q. Do the students have to meet income guidelines?
A. Basically the income guidelines are they have to be at a poverty level or disadvantaged or maybe a student who's living alone who doesn't have a job.
Q. What are the classes like?
A. We can begin at the beginning: basic reading course. We have 17 instructors who teach beginning reading, reading, math, and we also have five instructors that teach, basically they teach GED. We offer health occupations, business and clerical jobs with the word processing and data entry. We also offer welding and culinary arts. We also have a contract with two unions. They provide training in construction trades such as carpentry, apartment building maintenance, electrical wiring, painting, plumbing, and brick masonry. And we also offer plaster and cement masonry. We negotiated a deal with Drexel University in which they have provided us with 14 computers and training. And we do have a placement personnel officer so once the students complete the requirements, we place them on jobs. We get evaluated and we are rated according to our placement by the Department of Labor.