College Education and Training for Laid Off Workers

Going Back to School After You’ve Been Laid-Off, Part 2

Evaluating Recession-Proof Career Programs

“Going back to school” is not commonly the approach many people take to unemployment. The initial response is likelier to be “get a job.” But as we’ve seen in Part 1 of this article, times could be changing.

Forbes magazine * recently listed the top “recession-proof” jobs and it panned out like this:

  • business developers
  • network/IT
  • software developers/designers
  • accountants and CPAs
  • administrative assistants
  • customer service reps
  • social workers
  • nurses
  • mechanical engineer
  • sales executives

The Forbes list, as you might expect, covers a gamut of job levels—from career level to top professional, or little education to a lot of it.

What career step will cost you the least investment with the biggest bang for your buck?


Job Projections – Recession Proof Careers Requiring an Associates Degree or Less

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects ** that between now and 2016 the following career-centric occupations will show measurable and strong growth:

  • veterinary techs
  • physical therapy techs
  • dental hygienists
  • spa professionals: hair, skin, nail technicians
  • administrative assistants
  • entry-level supervisors
  • chefs, cooks
  • law enforcement
  • construction workers
  • interpreters

Two features of nearly all of these careers include:

  • Require less than 2-years of college education or professional training
  • Most offer upward mobility, the flexibility to climb the career ladder

How to use these job lead lists:

Here’s the thing—you could easily look at the Forbes list and think “Wow, I think software engineering sounds interesting…” But is it ATTAINABLE and SENSIBLE right now? A software engineer has at least a four-year Bachelors degree and many have Masters degrees—that’s 6 years of college, full-time. Not very practical if you have 2-years of college under your belt or none at all. BUT if you already have a Bachelors degree in Computer Science then the leap may not be so significant. See?

Evaluate your local job market. In order to practically pursue a veterinary tech program, for example, ensure that there is a demand – multiple thriving veterinary offices, animal hospitals, even self-employed veterinarians in your region.


Getting Career Education at Your Community College

Many of the careers above can be learned at your local community college – veterinary tech, dental hygienist, physical therapy, law enforcement/criminal justice, cooking, nursing—and others at special career schools—chef, spa technician. Better yet community colleges are affordable – you could go for a few thousand bucks a year.

Current educational climate: Right now community colleges across America are bursting at the seams. Unemployed workers are not the only ones hitting the books locally. In fact the economic tanking has hit college students hard as well—many have opted to forego the spendy campus scene in favor of the more affordable community college experience.

Tip: Solutions to overcrowded classrooms or wait lists: blended online or online programs.


** BLS


# Pigbitin Mad 2011-01-06 17:18
Reading things like this make me want to throw a massive temper tantrum. The problem is AGE DISCRIMINATION. I can certainly do administrative/bookkeeping jobs IN MY SLEEP. But I am constantly passed over becuse of my age even when I meet 1000% of the requirements.

It is so infuriating I want to SCREAM.
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# Mary 2011-08-01 16:39
I would like to know what constitutes full-time school on a weekly unemployment claim (in NJ). Is it assumed to be during full-time working hours (approx. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.), 12 credits as defined by the colleges or some other definition? I would like to attend and answer the questions on my claim honestly, but I don't know how to answer.
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# Joyce 2011-10-14 23:03
I feel that there is a certain amount of age discrimination. I am qualified for several positions but being 59 I have been passed over for interviews. I have been unemployed for over two years even McDonalds says no. I'm overqualified. My question to you is about a new career. I have exhausted my unemployment benefits. If I return to school will I be able to collect benefits until I finish a course to become certified as a paralegal. I have some credits at school towards this line of work. Please advise.
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# Carlos 2012-03-20 15:33
Hello, work as a freelance in IT, took a leave for over a year for family reasons in Mexico, now I'm back in Chicago, have both citizenships, member of the Mayor's Workforce Training Program in 2001, obtained my A+, Network+ and the MCSE Certifications from Microhard Inc. My question is: I would like to update my old Certifications for new ones - same School or others - in order to compete with new Gen's, I'm 58 with over 38 yrs in IT since the IBM 370/145 OS/HASP etc. "Not broke yet, but there soon"... Have a test" thank you State!
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