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Most programs remain same under Job Corps’ new management

The head of a Mississippi-based company assuming management of the Roswell Job Corps Center in March says he anticipates hiring hundreds of people from the area for positions, including some of the people who worked for the former management company. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The president of a Mississippi company that will manage the Roswell Job Corps Center for the next five years starting March 1 said he anticipates that most of the vocational and academic programs of the educational and workforce training center will continue as they are now.

A workforce training program in culinary arts, however, is not part of the contract for the coming years, said Korey Adams, president and chief executive officer of Distinction LLC.

“I am pretty sure that culinary arts won’t be (offered),” he said, explaining that programs in health care, finance and business, building technology and construction, machine repair, electrical technology and security are expected to continue.

Distinction was awarded the $40 million contract by the U.S. Department of Labor in late January. Distinction was formed in 2017 and is based in Greenville, Mississippi.

Distinction will provide operational, academic and youth development oversight for the center. The center offers free high school and college-level educational programs, workforce training, and career transition and placement assistance for eligible young adults from eastern and southwestern New Mexico. The Albuquerque Job Corps serves other areas of the state.

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“We think — based on our skills, and experience and know-how, with the population of youth and developing employees — that we are well suited to help transform the lives of the young people between the ages of 16 to 24 to help prepare them for the workforce,” Adams said.

The Roswell Job Corps has been managed by Alutiiq Management Services LLC (AMS), based in Huntsville, Alabama, since March 1, 2017.

Dr. Malia Villegas, senior vice president of community investments with Afognak Native Corp., the parent company of Alutiiq, said the company did not bid to renew its contract because the federal government established it as a HUBZone set-aside. That means only HUBZone-certified businesses were eligible bidders. Historically Underutilized Businesses are typically small businesses owned by women or minorities.

“It will be tough for AMS to bid farewell to the talented and dedicated group of professionals serving the exceptional young people at the Roswell Job Corps Center,” said Villegas. “However, AMS is committed to a smooth and successful transition with the new prime contractor, Distinction LLC, with all decisions being made in the best interest of the staff and students.”

According to Distinction, more than 200 people enroll in local Job Corps programs each year. The center provides room and board at its campus on the Roswell Air Center for those who want to live on-site, but it also serves people who live elsewhere and come to the campus for classes and training.

At the current time, workforce training occurs in building technology fields, painting and electrical services, automotive and machine repair, culinary arts and security and protection fields.

Adams said that Distinction’s contract focuses on all those fields except culinary arts. He said it also will offer college-level training in finance and business and in health care fields such as certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician training.

He did add, however, that he and other senior management members have been talking with community leaders about local needs and expect to continue discussions with business leaders in the future.

“We will be happy to have some conversations with them and talk about what we are looking to do at the center, as well as discover what ideas they have about their organizations and see where we can meet in the middle,” Adams said.

Adams said that some of the five members of Distinction’s executive management team have worked with Job Corps sites in the past, holding everything from entry-level to mid-level to executive positions. A capability statement posted on its website said that management members helped one Job Corps center achieve 90% job placement of its at-risk students. Distinction executive staff members also have worked with Aleut Management Services, HSMBC Community Development Corp. and YWCA of Greater Los Angeles.

Adams said his company plans to hire about 100 people to fill positions at the Roswell center, with jobs posted on various web-based job boards. The company also expects to hire some people who have worked with Alutiiq, he said. He said that available positions will include department leads and mid-management positions in administrative, academic and youth development areas.

“We are looking for employees who not only have the technical and educational skills,” Adams said, “but those individuals in the Roswell and greater community who have a passion for youth, who want to contribute to the lives of youth in a way that will help them to demonstrate the training and skills needed in the workplace, but also will enable them to live successfully in the community.”

Job Corps was formed in 1964. It now has about 123 locations in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.

Senior writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.