SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Cascades Jobs Corps will undergo changes in February after being chosen for a pilot program that focuses on preparing youths for health care and information technology jobs.
The program, which comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, will be the only one in the country. The philosophy of the program is rooted in Vice President Joe Biden’s push to prepare workers for available jobs, Department of Labor spokesman Egan Reich said.
Cascades Job Corps currently has high school diploma and GED programs for disenfranchised youths. After getting their diplomas, students can enroll in various job training programs for trades such as carpentry, masonry and food services. Those job training programs will go away or be retooled in February.
The Department of Labor is taking applications from vendors to run the pilot program at the Cascade Job Corps site at The Center for Technology and Innovation in the Pacific Northwest, which is also known locally as Northern State.
Management and Training Corp. currently runs Cascades Job Corps, but its contract has expired, opening a mandatory application process.
The current vendor and about five others have applied to run the pilot program, Cascades Job Corps Principal Scott McPhee said. The new vendor will start Feb. 1.
Cascades Job Corps was chosen for the pilot program because of its high performance and because its vendor’s contract was expiring.
McPhee said all of the vendors bidding to run the program have expressed interest in continuing to work with Sedro-Woolley High School.
Aside from that, there are many unknowns with the upcoming transition.
“I wish I could tell you what’s going to happen, but we are waiting for them,” McPhee said. “We are waiting on who gets the new contract whether it’s the current vendor or a new vendor. That’s really where we are at.”
If a new vendor is chosen, the vendor will be encouraged to rehire current staff, Reich said.
The pilot program will focus on health care and information technology because there’s a lot of job growth in that sector, Reich said.
Cascade Job Corps students stay at a dormitory at the facility. It has students as old as 24, but the pilot program will focus on those ages 16 to 21.
The pilot program description on the Department of Labor website states the program will host about 300 students.