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Retool career, skills after job loss

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 for the People and Press. Sixty percent of re-employed workers changed their career or field of work.

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And those in midcareer have a dizzying array of avenues to training to make the transition, be it computer networking certification, welding skills or a degree in nursing.

With that in mind, let's look at the ways workers can get needed training to retool.

Community college

In many regions, these are the primary job-retraining schools, offering everything from associate degrees to skills training and certifications.

Pros: Inexpensive, especially compared with for-profit colleges and traditional universities, and with flexible schedules. Many faculty are adjuncts, meaning they work in the fields they are teaching to keep them up to date. And there's likely to be a community college within reasonable commuting distance.

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 a local employer.

For-profit colleges/career schools

These schools are private businesses that receive no direct government support. Examples are DeVry 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 work force quickly.

Cons: Generally expensive compared with community and state colleges. Federal loans often are available, and the United States recently relaxed rules that threatened to cut off that tuition aid. The industry has also 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 many programs, including nursing, business administration, graphic design and hospitality management.

Vocational schools

These schools typically offer very specialized training in a single occupation.

Pros: Quick and focused training to get you back into the work force fast.

Cons: Often no general education.

Programs: Many are focused on skills needed for factory-type jobs. However, others are devoted to technology training or geared to health care occupations.

Volunteer programs

Many do-gooder programs require a service component but might allow you to earn while you learn. Examples include Teach for America and the Peace Corps.

Pros: A satisfying feeling that you're helping people, while learning new skills. Some programs help pay for schooling.

Cons: Service requirements might not fit with personalities, career goals or lifestyles of some — those caring for young children or elderly parents, for example.

Programs: Vary depending on organization.

Retool career, skills after job loss 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4:30am]
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