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User Spotlight: Kimberly Roberts, Virginia Job Corps

Get to know Kimberly Roberts, Statewide Job Developer for Virginia Job Corps

Tell us about you and your organization.

My name is Kimberly Roberts and I?ve been the Statewide Job Developer for the Virginia Job Corps program for the past three years.   In August, Job Corps will be celebrating 50 years as the nation?s largest vocational training program.  

Job Corps is fully funded through the United States Department of Labor and provides housing, meals, and vocational training to low-income youth at no cost. Once the student completes instruction, trade certification and returns home, job placement assistance is provided by me and eight other Career Transition Specialist throughout the state.

What are some challenges you’ve faced?

Because our training is self-paced, hundreds of students graduate every week and return home to find jobs. Unfortunately, several hurdles remain. Lack of transportation, confidence and hope seem to be the most prevalent.

As with most servicing programs, the focus is on numbers. The Job Corps Centers strive for producing high quantities of young adults prepared for work, and I strive to get them all into high quality jobs as quickly as possible. This is always challenging and often frustrating.  However, it is incredibly worthwhile when you witness a student who experiences an accomplishment for the first time.

What is an accomplishment you are proud of?

When I discovered that the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) did not recognize the Job Corps curricula for Carpentry, Electrical and HVAC, I realized how vital it was for this to change immediately.

Job Corps students seeking licensure for these trades would have had to repeat hundreds of hours of classwork simply due to the fact that DPOR had never been given the prospectuses. The entire outline of courses was public information; however, no one in the past 50 years confirmed our accreditations. I printed out the three syllabuses and presented them to the panel — and now Job Corps  recognized.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA provides me with verified resources I share with our students. Once young adults achieve self-assurance, they become empowered with capabilities to secure employment and lifelong independence and this constructs a solid, community capable of preventing poverty. A shortcut to the Basic Needs Directory stays on my desktop and I drive students, instructors and our entire staff there to find local services and programs that can help our graduates!

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