Job Corps provided individualized education, vocational training, residential support, comprehensive health services, counseling, and job placement assistance, typically in a residential setting, to economically disadvantaged youth to help them become more responsible and obtain employment.
The Job Corps education component was individualized and self-paced, and it included GED preparation and education about home and family living as well as and remedial, consumer, driver, and health education. The vocational training component was also individualized, self-paced, and included training in a range of trades, such as business, clerical, health, construction, culinary arts, building and apartment maintenance, and other vocations. Youth typically lived at Job Corps centers while participating in education and vocational training, though some continued to live at home. Job Corps centers offered comprehensive health services to residential and nonresidential youth for as long as they remained in the program. These services included medical and dental examinations and treatment; drug, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infection screenings; immunizations; counseling for mental health concerns; and guidance in hygiene and self-care. As part of the counseling component, Job Corps centers also employed counselors and residential advisors who helped youth plan their educational and vocational pathways, provided motivation, and supported youth during the program and through the transition to jobs after they exited the program. After completing education and vocational training, placement agencies that partnered with Job Corps helped youth find jobs by providing job development services and referrals, assisting with interviewing and resume writing, and distributing a stipend after youth complete the program.
As of 2020, Job Corps centers continue to offer similar services to eligible participants. Youth typically participated in the program for eight months, but the length of participation can vary. The target population for Job Corps included youth ages 16 to 24 who were disadvantaged (defined as living in household that received public cash assistance or its equivalent) or below the poverty level, living in a debilitating environment, and in need of education and training. Youth also could not have serious behavior or medical problems and needed to have adequate child care, if they had a child. Job Corps was evaluated in each of the 48 contiguous states and Washington, DC.