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By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
(Updated, 5:15 p.m.)
WASHINGTON – New student enrollment has been suspended at all Job Corps Centers across the country, including the location in Exeter, as a cost-saving measure. But politicians are calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to reconsider the move.
U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin sent a letter to Seth D. Harris, the acting secretary of labor, outlining his concerns about suspending the program that provides low-income men and women ages 16 to 24 with career, technical and academic training, including earning a high school diploma or GED.
The Department of Labor announced on Jan. 18 that it would suspend enrollment at all Job Corps centers through the 2012 program year, effective Jan. 28.
The Rhode Island Democrat said in a press release there is no indication that the suspension would be lifted before the July 1 start of the 2013 program year.
“[The announcement] will not only be detrimental to students, it will have a significant negative impact on state and local economies,” the letter states.
The suspension came on the heels of the Department of Labor’s Jan. 8 announcement that it would cut almost 3,000 student slots at seven selected centers.
“Many centers across the country will be forced to lay off a significant portion of their staffs, and this is far from what these communities need as they are still struggling to recover from an unprecedented unemployment and economic instability,” the letter states.
Exeter center Director Mark Riolo confirmed the enrollment suspension but said he was not authorized to comment further.
Andre J. Bowser, deputy regional director for public affairs for the Department of Labor, said that the program would “uphold out commitment to the students who have already been enrolled in Job Corps. … During program year 2012, we estimate that Job Corps will still be able to serve about 56,000 students, even with the temporary suspension of new enrollees.”
He added that only local offices would be able to say if there would be staff reductions, but he expected that the suspension would not last past June 30.
The Job Corps program, according to its website, is authorized by Title I-C of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
The website says the program trains more than 100,000 students at 125 centers nationwide, including in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.