Edna Primrose, a longtime youth worker and Job Corps administrator, has been named national director of Job Corps, according to a memo circulated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
The DOL expects to formally announce the decision on Monday, when the appointment becomes effective, the memo states.
“I will be working with Ms. Primrose over the next few weeks to insure a smooth and seamless transition,” states the memo sent yesterday to Job Corps staff and center directors by interim national director Lynn Intrepidi.
Staffers at the DOL declined to comment on the memo, but several people outside the department confirmed that they received it Thursday.
“It was a great pick,” said one union leader who runs a Job Corps training program. “I don't know of anyone that has the well-rounded background in Job Corps that Edna possesses.
“She has worked on Job Corps centers and knows our clients. She is smart, personable and a good administrator. I am so happy the government got it right this time.”
Her appointment was also welcomed by the National Job Corps Association.
"Edna is the first National Director of Job Corps that will bring to the job experience working on and managing a Job Corps center," the association said in a newsletter. "We are so excited for her and look forward to working with her to strengthen Job Corps for the millions of young Americans who so desperately need its services."
The memo from Intrepidi, the interim national director of Job Corps, says this about Primrose:
Her career in workforce development began in 1984, when she joined the International Union of Operating Engineers. She has worked directly with Job Corps students and staff since 1997. She served as national director of the union’s Job Corps training program from 1997 to 2000.
She is credited with creating a nationally recognized workplace diversity training curriculum and technical assistance guides for promoting women in the construction trades.
Primrose joined the national Job Corps office in 2000 as head of the Division of Program Support and Accountability. Since 2003, she has worked as a Job Corps center deputy director and director. The National Job Corps Association says those positions were at Woodstock Job Corps Center in Woodstock, Md., and the Woodland Job Corps Center in Laurel, Md., respectively.
She became corporate executive director of policy development in 2007.
Primrose takes the helm of Job Corps at a time when some of its contracted site operators have been dogged by a series of audits that have turned up improper billing practices, shoddy recording-keeping and shortcomings in oversight for health, safety and discipline of youths in the job training program. (See How Not to Handle Sex, Drugs and Violence at Job Corps, Another Federal Audit Slams Another Job Corps Site and Audit Says ResCare Billed Improperly for Job Corps.)
The program has also struggled to attract and retain females. (See Job Corps: Better Targeted Career Training and Improved Preenrollment Information Could Enhance Female Residential Student Recruitment and Retention.)
Job Corps is the nation’s largest education and training program for disadvantaged youth. Created in 1964 as part of the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty, it runs on approximately $1.7 billion a year, serving up to 100,000 youths (ages 16 through 24) annually, and 42,000 at any given time. The dormitory-based program runs 123 centers around the country.
The DOL has a plan to transfer the program from the Secretary of Labor’s office to the Employment and Training Administration. Youth Today has requested but has not received a copy of the plan.