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'Mancession' lifts with better news

“Mancession," the recession's legacy that increased men's unemployment rates higher and faster than women's, has left about 9.8 million adult men (compared to about 7.5 million women) out of work.

And, unfortunately, about one-third of job-hunting men have been out of work for at least six months, a fact that tends to make work force re-entry harder.

But there is room for a celebratory note:

Employment in predominantly male industries, such as manufacturing, has been ticking upward in the last four months.

Also, work force retraining organizations are experiencing record enrollments as those who lost jobs in fading industries are repositioning themselves to enter growing fields, such as health care and "green" energy.

The best news for career changers is that there is continued need for hands-on work. After all, a leaky toilet can't be fixed from Mumbai, India.

While the construction and skilled trades have been hurt badly by the collapse in the housing and credit markets, most of those jobs will return when the ever-cyclical economy ramps up again.

But even in industries that will once again hire, it's important to realize that the skills you once used may not be enough to land you the "new" job.

It might have been enough to know how to drive a forklift. Now, you may need to know how to operate the computer that runs an automatic inventory restocking system.

Work force trainers say one of the biggest barriers to job re-entry is fear or unwillingness to learn new skills.

In short, old dogs must learn new tricks.

That also means making new connections because your new workplace isn't apt to be the same as your old workplace.

Take a class. Volunteer for a nonprofit. Join a trade group or professional association. Do something to get your name and face "out there."

And, employed or not, take a Father's Day moment this month to relish your family connections. Work means a lot, but it isn't everything.

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.

'Mancession' lifts with better news 06/30/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 12:04am]
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