Some students return to Iroquois Job Corps with more headed to the center

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 April 2021 at 10:04 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Students studying to be clinical medical assistants learn to draw blood at the Iroquois Job Corps Center.

MEDINA – Like so many companies and schools, the Covid pandemic took a toll on students and learning at the Iroquois Job Corps.

Luke Kantor

The Job Corps was shut down in March 2020 when orders were issued to send all Job Corps students home and put a temporary hold on admitting new students. They didn’t start bringing back students until November, when they were allowed back in small groups.

In December 2020, it was announced the Job Corps’ new year would begin under the leadership of Education and Training Resources headquartered in Bowling Green, Ky. ETR formerly managed the Iroquois Job Corps for a number of years and won the contract back in December, according to Center Director Dennis Essom in the December newsletter.

Luke Kantor, manager of Outreach and Admissions/Career Readiness/Career Transition, said during the pandemic students were on distance learning and now some would prefer not to come back in person. Students at home were issued Chromebooks and wireless hotspots, and instructors created virtual classrooms to work with students, so they could continue their education.

A student lays bricks in the masonry class at Iroquois Job Corps. Bricklaying is one of half a dozen careers students can train for at the Job Corps.

As of March, 40 students were on site and 110 were waiting to get in. Each group brought back to the Center must quarantine for two weeks. The Iroquois Job Corps Center has the capacity for 225 students.

Training is offered as a certified nursing assistant, clinical medical assistant and in electrical, carpentry, bricklaying and painting fields, as well as high school equivalency.

Kantor said a student who graduates from the bricklaying program can start working with a union at $42 an hour. He also said a student can’t learn bricklaying on a computer. They need to be on site.

The bricklaying program has recently acquired a new piece of equipment called a brick mule. It is a mix of robotics and masonry, Kantor said. It can pick up blocks as heavy as 200 pounds and put them in place.

The goal of ETR and Job Corps is to promote more connections to the community. There is a focus on bringing in more local students, rather than those from the big cities, Kantor said. A Community Relations Council, which meets four times a year, and Work Force Council, which meets twice a year, are made up of members from the community.

Also, the Job Corps is encouraging females to train the fields of skilled trades, such as carpentry, stone/brick masonry, commercial painting and electrical.

Kantor also noted the Job Corps not only works with at-risk students, but those who’ve done well and graduated from high school and BOCES.

“If they are looking for extra training, we can provide it,” he said.

Kantor said staff is working on a virtual job fair and with a virtual military recruiting meeting.