Retraining sounds something like a punishment from a dystopian novel, but it can actually be a good option for job seekers who are having a hard time finding work. Especially for job seekers who don’t feel that their skill set is working in today’s job market- or for those who just want a new career path- a fresh education can breathe life into a tired job search. However, as with any major (and costly) decision, there are upsides and downsides. Here are some things to consider when thinking about retraining options [i.e. going back to school].
The benefits and risks of going back to school change depending on the kind of program you want to enter. For job seekers considering enrollment in a graduate program or a bachelor’s program, some perks may apply. For example, health insurance is often offered to full-time or part-time students enrolled in an academic program. Although it may be difficult to get coverage for your family if necessary— and premiums will certainly be higher— the coverage can take some of the pressure off being unemployed.
However, more intensive courses of study can jeopardize unemployment benefits if you are receiving them. Being a full-time student interferes with job seekers’ abilities to look for jobs, and to take a job when one comes along. Both of these things are necessary to keeping unemployment benefits. In order to keep your unemployment benefits, you may have to demonstrate that your class schedule will not interfere with looking for jobs, or with working a job should you find one. This way you may still be able to keep your unemployment if it is essential to your well-being right now.
Trade schools or non-degree classes are great options for job seekers who are looking to expand their skill set but don’t want to lose out on working during school. Associate’s degree programs can be a great gateway to a new career path. Many classes are structured with working adults in mind and can be completed by taking evening classes over a longer period of time.
Like the career path you’re already on? Job seekers who like their career path, but feel that their skill set is not competitive enough should consider taking a few non-degree courses at a local community college. By taking a refresher course in your field, or choosing a class that builds a complementary skill set (foreign language, computer skills, etc.), you can give yourself an edge in the job market for a minimal investment on time and money.
Time and money investment! This, of course, is the biggest downside to retraining for a new career path. Beware of student loan debt and academic burnout. Remember that education, while certainly helpful, is no guarantee of a job later on down the road. Carefully research the kinds of classes/degree you want to invest in, and keep in mind the earning potential for that degree. Also, be sure to discuss the decision with anyone else who might be affected. Your significant other might not care that you got accepted to Harvard if you live in Seattle.
Are you stuck in unemployment and thinking of retraining? Have you used retraining to expand your professional skill set? How about to find a new career path? Send me a [email protected]— or leave a comment below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by eriwst