Economy Forward: Job Retraining

Nov 11, 2011 6:42 PM

Higher education is a staple in many young peoples lives. And once they receive their degree, they're hopeful a successful career will follow. But for many, that doesn't happen.

As work in many industries dries up, millions of Americans become unemployed.. And some never get the job they hoped for fresh out of college. But rather than sit stagnant and wait for the economy to change, many are returning to school for retraining..

"High interest in returning to school to kind of re-tool your occupational abilities." Butte College Career and Technical Programs Dean, Mike Dunbaugh, says he's seeing classes fill up, with an older crowd of students.

Americans are heading back to school and are hitting the books.. Getting retrained in almost any field that shows promise of hiring. "There is interest in anything that looks like there could be a job out there," Dunbaugh says.

Some have chosen to make radical career changes, while others are focusing to build upon the skills they already have. 39-year-old Chico resident Alex Triantafyllou, a long-time construction management retail developer, was forced to leave his career when the economy went down hill. And when his job search was unsuccessful, he decided to head back to school.

Triantafyllou says, "I'm just trying to update my skills so that I become more marketable when things turn around." But with the current downfall of the construction management industry, he is keeping his options open. "If things don't pan out here in the near future, it might be a matter of a complete career change and that's not out of the picture for me."

Which is what 29-year-old Cori Lawrence of Chico chose to do. A previous stay-at-home mom, and current nursing student, Lawrence headed back to school to get the skills she needs, to land the job she's always wanted. She says, "I've always wanted to take care of people, and with the economy being how it was, having a stay-at-home mom, wasn't going to cut it."

But the decision to go back wasn't easy. Lawrence says financially it's a burden, and it's also puts a huge strain on her entire family. "It's definitely difficult having a family and children and trying to balance all that with a career and going back to school," says Lawrence.

But the work isn't over for these students. The toughest challenge of applying, interviewing, and actually getting hired still lies ahead. "It's a little daunting, just knowing where the economy is," Triantafyllou says. Lawrence says, "It's not easy. I already have a job at a hospital, so it's a little bit better to get that foot in the door."

But in the present time, getting a foot in the door is often easier said than done. With unemployment rates reaching nearly 10 percent in the U.S., the highest it's been in nearly 30 years, even added skills and a new degree won't guarantee a successful career.

Still, sometimes the best advice anyone can give, is to never give up. Dunbaugh says, "Jump in with both feet, don't hesitate, go 110%, don't slow down. Get yourself back on the ship and paddle fast and heavy."


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