Job Corps, what is it?

Career exploration and job training for at-risk youth.

Photo of a compass where the hand is pointing to the word career.
Image from, free images.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H defines career exploration as the “process in which an individual chooses an educational path or training or a job which fits their interests, skills and abilities.” When high school teachers and counselors ask, “What do you plan to do in the future?” Are you able to answer that question, do you know what you want to do in the future? Maybe you’re a teen who is really unsure. Students and parents tend to rely on schools to provide career readiness and there are a few programs that provide training based on skills and interests.

Job Corps is a program that assists youth in finding their educational paths, interests, and skills. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Job Corps is the nation's largest and most comprehensive residential education and job training program for at-risk youth, ages 16 through 24.

Job Corps is designed for young people to complete their high school education, build on their existing skills, train them for meaningful careers and assist them in obtaining employment. Students do not have to make a certain “grade” as Job Corps allows students to demonstrate with skills in a given subject or training area, they also use a training and achievement record.

Michigan happens to have three Job Corps centers: Grand Rapids, Flint and Detroit. The centers offer career technical training in the following areas: advanced manufacturing, automotive and machine repair, construction, finance and business, healthcare, homeland security, hospitality, information technology, renewable resources and energy, and transportation. What is unique about this program is that it is fully funded by the federal government and free to students who are accepted. They look for students who have faced obstacles, including homelessness, low income, and youth considered at risk. Studies show these are the students who often stop attending school so they can go to work.

MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or youth entrepreneurship, email us at

Did you find this article useful?