OTTUMWA — Saturday was a special day for the Ottumwa Job Corps Center, as U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack came for a tour of the facility and to speak about the importance of Job Corps centers.
Before each of them had a chance to speak in front of guests and students of the center, they were shown around the campus before meeting with members of the media. They were even given a demonstration of some of the projects students have been working on, including a cable wiring demonstration.
Secretary Perez said this was the first time he had been to Ottumwa, and he was impressed by what he’d seen at the Job Corps center.
“It has been a wonderful visit here,” he said. “What’s unique about this Job Corps center is the partnership with [Indian Hills Community College]."
He said the ability of IHCC to partner with Job Corps makes it so students have choices once they leave Job Corps, and it is that partnership that helps both be successful.
“I’m asking kids, every one that I see, what they want to do when they are done here,” Perez said. “A number of them are saying they want to get a job, and a number of them say they are going to continue their education. The sky’s the limit, and this partnership is what makes it key.”
The four legislators joined Job Corps students, staff and other guests in the OJCC Gymnasium after their tour of the campus, and each spoke about why Job Corps centers are so important and how the work that has been done at the Ottumwa Job Corps Center has been outstanding.
“It’s education, but it’s not just education,” Loebsack said.
“You’re giving people the skills and a fair shot to reach the American dream,” Harkin said.
“Education is the great equalizer, and that’s what you’re getting now,” Perez said.
— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh