Devens — Though Shriver Job Corps is a federal facility, its mission to train youth and match them with gainful employment calls for cooperation with regional businesses and organizations.
Those partnerships were the focus of the center’s quarterly community relations luncheon on March 30, said Shriver representative Linda Scullane to the 20 attendees.
“The purpose of getting together like this is to exchange communication and keep the lines of communication open,” she said.
Shriver staff member Kevin Porter offered a brief presentation about what’s offered at the Devens campus of the nation’s largest residential employment and education training program.
The center offers high school diploma, GED, and community college education for up to 450 students each year, he said. There are also 12 vocational training programs including culinary, carpentry and automotive. Ninety percent of graduates move on to jobs, the military or higher education.
Shriver benefits business by providing a skilled workforce and saving on hiring and training costs, said Porter. He listed roughly 20 local partnerships for Shriver, saying the relationships are a two-way street. Employers get referrals of known prospects, while the center works to tailor its training specifically to what businesses are looking for.
“If it’s in our discipline, we’re very flexible,” he said.
Among Shriver Job Corps partners in attendance was Edward Christian, of SnapChef, a culinary placement firm. He described SnapChef as a growing outfit with clients including Gillette Stadium, the World Trade Center and numerous corporate cafeterias. He attested to the talents of the culinary program’s graduates, saying they have what it takes to enter their workforce and help SnapChef expand its client list.
“The truth of the matter is, we’re growing,” he said. “With that growth comes the need to put great people out there. We’re only as good as the people we put out there.”
Also there was Joan Pena, of Ayer, who is on the board of directors for Loaves & Fishes.
Job Corps does great volunteer work for Loaves & Fishes, she said, and credited the program with giving young people a well-rounded education experience.
“They’re not only teaching them how to work, but also how to integrate with the community. They’re teaching them the value of volunteering.”
A brief update on the legislative climate toward Job Corps was also given by center Director Modesta Gloria. Having recently attended a conference in Washington on the topic, Gloria said the program retains federal support, though he urged guests to voice their support in letters to their representatives.
“Every year Job Corps has to fight for its funding,” he said. “We found we still have a great deal of support in both sides of the house but we can’t take that for granted.”
He also provided a brief history of the program, saying it was established in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s war on poverty. Though that phrase is not used much in politics these days, Gloria said the struggle is ongoing.
“I consider people who work for Job Corps to be warriors in that war,” he said. “I consider any business or community members who work with us warriors as well. Thank you for your support.”