“If a Person Can Work, All Other Things Will Follow” – Reflections on 50 Years of the Clearfield Job Corps Center

Last month, Jane Marquardt, Vice Chair of MTC, spoke at the 50th anniversary of the Clearfield Job Corps Center in Northern Utah. In her remarks to the audience, she reflected on her father’s commitment to education and the importance of the services Job Corps provides.

In the fall of 1966, the Job Corps program was first being conceived by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Sergeant Shriver as a tool in the “War on Poverty.” Modeled after the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the goal of the Job Corps was and is to this day to provide vocational and academic training to young people ages 16-24.

Jane’s father, Robert Marquardt, saw this as a great opportunity to enhance the lives of the working class and those seeking opportunity in Northern Utah. Convincing his employer, Thiokol Chemical Corporation, to go into this new education business was not an easy task, but given his dedication and excitement for the project, Thiokol agreed. Initial resistance from the local community nearly derailed the project, but Robert and his colleagues persisted. He himself coming from a family of educators, Robert understood the power a quality education can mean for a person’s future; not only for themselves, but for their family and their community. “If a person can work, all other things will follow!” was Robert’s mantra. Applying his management principles to the programming – strict accountability, outcome performance measurements, and allowing every student to proceed at their own rate – the Clearfield Job Corps Center became one of the most successful Job Corps Centers in the nation under Robert’s leadership.

In 1981, Robert Marquardt and his colleagues founded Management & Training Corp (MTC), and bought the rights to operate the four Job Corps Centers managed by Thiokol Chemical. Mortgaging everything, putting his livelihood on the line, Robert risked his and his family’s future because he believed so strongly in the mission of the Job Corps. One month after putting it all on the line, President Reagan announced his intention to terminate the Job Corps program. In shock and anger, knowing what was at stake for himself, his family, and for the people served by the Job Corps, he and his partners flew to Washington, D.C. to testify in front of Congress the benefits of the program and the impact it had on the lives of its participants. Through their efforts, Congress determined the Job Corps too valuable to terminate, defying the President and saving the program. 35 years later, 50 since its launch, Job Corps is continuing to make real impacts on people’s lives.

Robert Marquardt’s legacy lives on through Job Corps, as do some of his lessons:
• Believe in yourself; You are the one who has the most power to create your future. Most limits are established not by others, but by the limits you place on your own mind.
• Be alive in every moment.
• Dwell fully in your passion.
• Surround yourself with people you love and help you grow.

Today, there are over 100 Job Corps centers across the U.S. in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. MTC is the largest private operator of these centers, operating 17 and providing management services to four more. On any given day, more than 9,000 students are trained and educated at MTC managed or operated Job Corps centers.