August 19, 2011
New skills: Explore options for revamping your career
The Associated Press
As broad-based hiring in the United States slowly gains momentum, many out-of-work Americans are finding they need to retool their skills, certifications and degrees.
About 36 percent of people who were re-employed after being laid off in the Great Recession received job retraining or more education, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. And 60 percent of re-employed workers changed their career or field of work.
Here’s a look at the array of options those in transition have to get the training needed to retool. These are general descriptions; experts suggest consulting a career adviser and doing homework to find out which is right for you.
Description: These are the primary job-retraining schools, offering everything from associate degrees to skills training and certifications. Local examples include North Seattle Community College, Bellevue College and Edmonds Community College, to name a few.
Pros: Inexpensive, especially compared with for-profit colleges and traditional universities. They also offer flexible schedules.
Cons: Enrollment has exploded in recent years, which may make it difficult to get into classes you want or need. As with any group of schools, some are generally better than others. And depending on the program, training could take longer than, say, career-specific schools.
Programs: Wide-ranging, from basic English and biology to machine training for a specific industry. Community colleges are so integrated into local economic development efforts that they can quickly set up programs to accommodate needs of local employers.
For-profit colleges/career schools
Description: These are private businesses that receive no direct government support. Examples are DeVry University, Strayer University and University of Phoenix.
Pros: Flexible class schedules, online offerings and typically a focus on career skills. That can be important for those who need to work around family obligations and want to re-enter the workforce quickly. Some of these schools also offer associate degrees, while a few offer baccalaureate degrees and beyond.
Cons: Generally expensive compared with community and state colleges. Federal loans often are available, but the industry has been accused of having high-pressure sales tactics, low graduation rates and poor career placement. However, that can vary by school, and even critics agree that for-profit schools have a role to play in job retraining.
Programs: Each school is likely to offer a wide variety of programs, including nursing, business administration, graphic design and hospitality management.
Description: These schools typically offer specialized training in a single occupation. Seattle Vocational Institute, for example, offers health, administrative and cosmetology programs. Some are small, nonprofit community-based organizations. As with most programs, prospective students should do their homework, asking questions such as “What certification will I earn?” and “What are starting wages in this field?”
Pros: Quick and focused training to get you back into the workforce fast.
Cons: Often no general education, just skills for a specific industry or job.
Programs: Many are focused on skills needed for factory-type jobs. However, others are devoted to technology training or geared toward health-care occupations.
Description: Many volunteer programs require a service component but might allow you to earn while you learn. Examples include Teach for America, AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.
Pros: A satisfying feeling that you’re helping people while learning new skills. Some programs help pay for schooling. Teach for America workers get free training and earn a starting teacher’s salary in the low-income districts where they teach.
Cons: Service requirements might not fit with personalities, career goals or lifestyles of some, such as those caring for young children or elderly parents.
Programs: Vary depending on organization. The Peace Corps, for example, requires volunteers to work overseas in areas of education, youth and community development, health, agriculture, environment, and business, information and communications technology.
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