Another new contractor taking over Northlands Job Corps

VERGENNES — For the fourth time in eight years, a new company is taking over management of the Northlands Job Corps federal job-training center in Vergennes.
After a stint of about a year and a half during which it replaced a controversial center director, Alaska firm Chugach Education Services Inc. has lost its contract with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to operate Northlands.
Spokesman Ted Fitzgerald from the DOL’s regional office in Boston confirmed to the Independent late last week the new contract had been awarded to Education and Training Resources, a Kentucky firm that already operates four other Job Corps centers, including two in New York, one in Connecticut, and one in Georgia.
Fitzgerald forwarded an email from the Job Corps division of the DOL, which oversees the more than 120 job-training centers for disadvantaged youths around the nation and contracts with private firms to run them.
That email read: “The new Northlands Job Corps Center Operations contract was awarded to Education and Training Resources (ETR) on April 27, 2018. The Northlands Job Corps Center contract provides center operations and outreach and admissions and career transition services. The Northlands Job Corps center provides career training to 220 students annually.  The contract was awarded for a base period of 25-months (May 1, 2018 – May 31, 2020) with three one-year option periods until May 31, 2023, for a five year total value of  $48,141,743.”
ETR becomes the fourth contractor at Northlands since 2010, although between Northlands’ founding on Macdonough Dive in 1978 and 2010 only three firms operated Northlands, and none stayed for fewer than five years.
Chugach took over the center in late 2016. Chugach’s first director, Shirma Ferguson, came under fire from students and staff members for her leadership style, inconsistent discipline and alleged violations of DOL policy. Complaints were forwarded to the DOL, and Chugach replaced her in September with Alicia Grangent.
Northlands, which typically employs up to 120, has lacked stability in recent years. Chugach had replaced CHP International, which had operated Northlands for three years. CHP had replaced another Alaskan firm, Alutiiq LLC. Alutiiq’s stay was marked by discipline issues, particularly in one dorm, and like the other firms since 2010 Alutiiq’s tenure failed to reach the five-year mark.
According to ETR’s website, the company is “a partner with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Job Corps and local Workforce Investment Boards for the management and operation of Job Corps Centers and customized workforce development programs that serve both youth and adults. We design and deliver a variety of customized education, career technical training, and employment related services for both our students and federal, state and local partners.”
In its partnership with the DOL operating Job Corps centers in Hartford, Conn.; Albany, Ga.; and Medina and Oneonta, N.Y., ETR “employs over 750 full-time staff and serves approximately 3,000 youth and young adults each year,” according to its website.

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