Thursday, June 3, 2010

Re-Training, But for What? And at What Expense?

For someone who believes her current job to be secure (knocking wood furiously), I am obsessed with articles about folks over 50 who have watched their positions and their income fade away.

One suggestion is to retrain. Apparently enrollment is up at community colleges as people do just that.

But retrain to do what?

How does one even know what jobs are available out in the real world.

Two of my daughters have their CNA certification. This allows them work in nursing homes and as care providers for private patients. Theoretically, their field is wide open given an aging population. But the reality is a bit different. Both of my daughters are paid by the state to provide home care to handicapped individuals (usually but not always elderly) who get so-many hours per week of assistance.

Unfortunately, our state, like many others, is in fiscal crisis. So the number of hours available are being cut back.

Nursing homes are similarly cutting back as government subsidies are decreased.

So getting the CNA certification, which should have been a good plan (and actually has been for my children) is not so great at the moment.

Jayme, who writes the Boxcar Kids blog, is looking at retraining in her environmental field but the cost is $1600. If it would lead to a guaranteed job, it would no doubt be worth it. But there are no guarantees in this economy.

Ask 57 year old Rick Moran who has twice sought out more education (as a corrections officer and an auto-parts designer) and more certification, but has yet to find a job since being laid off from a design job with Chrysler 2.5 years ago.

I have absolutely no clue what I would do if I could not work in my current field. Nor do I know how I'd figure out if retraining was worth it--assuming, of course, if I even knew what other fields I should be looking at.


Morrison said...

You don't need much retraining to be a greeter at Walmarts or Lowes. McDonalds gives some training. So does Disney. If you're in to selling stuffed Tigers and Mickeys.

Working at age 55+.


Don't get me started.

Anonymous said...

One of my students did a labor market experiment looking at older female high school graduates (ages 35-62), sending out resumes and measuring response rates for interviews based on a number of different characteristics. The paper is forthcoming in a human resources journal.

She found that volunteer work helps. Computer experience helps. The most important thing though is to get some, any post-high school education.

Nursing degrees helped a LOT. CNA is a good start-- they're much much better off with those than if they didn't have that degree, especially with the way college grads and other folks are flooding the market for white-collar positions that didn't used to require more advanced degrees.

If your daughters can get an LPN/LVN (generally a year degree or less) they'll be in even better shape employment-wise. Dental assistant is another one that's in pretty high demand for limited post-high school education. Trucking licensing is more expensive to obtain (and right now is not be doing as well as it had been), but is another job with more or less regular work.

Other research has found that more important than the direct economic impact, training and retraining has positive effects on women's self-esteem and ability to search for a job.

Retraining is by no means a panacea, but if you don't know what else to do it can definitely help. It is a good idea to look at the employment outcomes for a degree before jumping into an expensive degree, and make sure that those expensive degrees are not scams. I like the BLS occupational outlook handbook online for information about employment and wages in different occupations.

Savvy Working Gal said...

This post reminds me of an article I read recently recommending we spend our time searching for fulfilling work rather than saving for retirement. The point being, once we have a self-fulfilling job, we will be so happy working we won’t ever want to retire thus we won’t need retirement savings. The purpose of the article was to teach us money doesn’t provide meaning, but sometimes life doesn’t turn out that way and we have to be content to just have “a job.”

MasterPo said...

"Retraining" is the buzz word of the decade. Maybe even of the century!

Fact is if you look at the stats, people "retrained" rarely end up doing well and often go back to unemployment.

Even if one does successfully complete a "retraining" program there's the issue of experience.

Reality check: Very very few employers are going to hire a "retrainee" over someone who's been in the field all their career. For better or worse a "retrained" person is often seen as 'damaged goods'. :-(

Another reality: Even if you succeed in "retraining" and land a job, you're starting out at the bottom - again.

That means very low pay, longer hours, crappier work etc.

You do what you gotta do. But that's going to have a significant impact on your life and life style.

A job isn't a job.