Career change is common in today's ever-shifting, fast-paced work environment. Gone is the "one company, one job" ideal embraced by past generations. With changing technology, globalization and economic shifts, new opportunities arise while traditional occupations fade away. Unsettling? Yes. Insurmountable? No. If you're a dislocated worker you're not alone. Avoid wistful backward glancing and instead focus on your future. Then you can map out your prospects with a solid plan.
It will require research. Your personal life circumstances will be a key factor in the decision making process. First, consider transferable skills. Can skills you have right now transition into another occupation? Most soft skills, such as customer-service skills, and some technical skills, such as computer and software literacy, are applicable in multiple industries. Take a thorough skills inventory. If retraining is your best option, further exploration is needed. How long is the course of study? Can you afford living expenses while you're in school? Does your family support your goals? Do job opportunities exist in your community? Careful consideration of these concerns, as well as others specific to your situation is important. Be practical and truthful. Don't make dropping out optional.
Websites like www.onetonline.org and www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov are helpful resources. Information on required training for your chosen field, necessary skills, employment trends, wage data and more can be found here. Bright outlook occupations, those projected to grow rapidly, have higher-than-normal job openings, and/or are new and emerging fields, are highlighted.
Informational interviews will help you gather additional information. Don't miss the opportunity to speak with a current employee in your desired field. Most will be happy to meet with you on an appointment basis. Interview more than one person for multiple perspectives, take notes and prepare with pre-planned questions.
The California Training Benefits Program allows you to continue receiving unemployment compensation if you enter into an approved training program when your current skills provide a poor employment outlook and if upgrading them would make you more employable. To understand the full scope of the CTB program go to www.edd.ca.gov and type in de2332 in the search field. A comprehensive tip sheet titled "What is the California Training Benefits Program" will explain guidelines. In a nutshell the CTB program waives the "efforts to seek work" requirement and the "available for work" requirement for approved CTB participants. It does not pay for training expenses and requires navigation of the approval process to participate.
Training funds are available for eligible dislocated workers as part of the federally funded Workforce Investment Act. If you are a dislocated worker this program is worthwhile to explore. Information can be obtained at your local One Stop Employment Center. A brief pre-screening form will assess your baseline qualifications. Once established, an appointment will be scheduled to proceed with the formal application process. The "eligible training provider list" provides a comprehensive list of pre-approved training providers. Only these trainers will be approved within the parameters the WIA program. Go to http://etpl.edd.ca.gov/wiaetplindtx.htm for a full listing.
Does online training appeal to you? While this training delivery mode is not for everyone, it works for some. If your location limits your schooling options or if you just prefer a flexible school schedule that better suits your lifestyle, distance learning is a viable alternative to a conventional classroom. If you're not comfortable using a computer, don't have easy access to one or just need a more hands on learning experience this choice is not for you. Online training is included on the ETPL.
Before finalizing your training choice meet with a school counselor. Become familiar with the full scope of your course of study. Know the requirements and also the resources available to you. A good training fit will optimize your chances for success. For example, if you dislike math and would rather have a root canal than muddle through even one algebra problem you might consider rethinking your choice if an ample dose of advanced math is part of the curriculum. Another example: If you will be working and training at the same time and your lifestyle is exceedingly busy and hectic, can you cope with the extra pressure? Anticipate potential stumbling blocks and devise a way to resolve conflicts before they occur. Don't sell yourself short. Visualize your success. Know your limitations, but rely on your strengths.
With careful consideration and a winning attitude you can successfully transition into a new career that is a perfect fit for you.
- Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.