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Jobless Attracted To Trade And Technical Schools

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

June 15, 2009

Enrollment in trade and technical schools is increasing throughout the country as laid-off workers seek new skills to embark on second careers.

The Tennessean reports that according to Betty Krump, executive director of the American Technical Education Association, enrollment in trade schools has increased in more than half the states in the country. "The economy and unemployment have really given it a boost," she noted.

In a nod to the trend, Carol Puryear, director of the Tennessee Technology Center in Murfreesboro, said that enrollment is up 10 percent this year over last year, with many of the new students in their 40s and 50s.

"The quickest and easiest way to get someone back in the work force is technical education," explained James King, a vice chancellor with the Tennessee Board of Regents. "Going to school for school's sake is not what they want. They want something to get them back to work. It changes their lives quickly, whether it's computer repair training or truck driver training."

Similarly, The News Journal in Delaware reports that trade and technical schools are seeing a surge in interest. Cheryl Zapata, executive vice president of Dawn Training Centre, said enrollment is up this year with most of the growth apparent in health-related careers such as nurse's assistant, medical assistant and pharmacy technician.

But other fields have seen growth as well. After being laid off from a car sales job in December, Crystal Lohr enrolled at Schilling-Douglas School of Hair Design in Newark to be trained as a hairdresser. After completing her training in May, she plans to work in a salon and one day open up a spa.

"I've seen a lot of small businesses go out of business left and right and you see a lot of for-sale signs and it's kind of scary," Lohr told The News Journal. "But no matter how bad the economy is, even though it might slow down a little, everybody is still getting their hair done. They're going to be late on bills so they can still get their hair done."

Leroy Church decided to enroll in a bodyguard training program at the Delaware Protective Services Academy in Milford after losing his job at a lumber company. "People are always going to need protecting," he explained, "and this is something that I enjoy doing, helping people and making sure people are safe."

Older workers are also seeking vocational training. Patricia Parker, 58, enrolled at Murfreesboro's technology center to learn business system technology after being laid off from an assembly line job. Despite not having been in school for 40 years, she is optimistic that the new training will give her more job security.

"I'm tired of getting laid off at factories," she told The Tennessean. "I need to re-educate myself."

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