Unemployment offers an opportunity to learn a new skill or improve existing ones through online and classroom learning. There are a number of free and low-cost resources available nationwide serving individuals at all skill levels.
Run by the Department of Labor, CareerOneStops nationwide focus on job searching (such as assistance with applying for unemployment, resume writing, and access to phones, faxes, computers to assist with your search) as well as access to on-site and online skills development workshops and training programs, most of which are free. To find the location nearest you, visit www.careeronestop.org or call 1-877-872-5627.
Career Voyages is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education, designed to provide information on high growth, in-demand occupations along with the skills and education needed to attain those jobs. There’s access to apprenticeship and certificate programs in the areas that the BLS determines are high-growth positions for both blue collar and white collar workers.
Non-Profit, Non-Sectarian Organizations:
Jewish Vocational Service: Founded during the Great Depression to assist immigrants with job training and placement, now operates 22 agencies throughout the country serving nearly a half a million people with a wide range of career-related services. More than 25,000 were placed in jobs last year as a result of the training they received. And JVS works with 40,000 employers of all sizes, where their agencies get to know the business needs in their area and can customize training programs to meet the demands in a variety of industries.
For example, the New Jersey agency created a “Caregiving Companions” program, which provides customized training to potential candidates, then places successful graduates as caregivers in the homes of the frail elderly and people with disabilities. JVS says it’s not able to find enough workers to meet the demand for this service, which is projected to grow as the boomer population ages.
JVS in New Jersey also created a program to provide skills training to unemployed individuals seeking to become bus drivers in partnership with Coach USA. JVS says that Coach guarantees employment for candidates who successfully pass the pre-CDL training program, which prepares candidates to pass the written CDL test, and the subsequent road CDL training that Coach provides. To find the location nearest you, visit www.iajvs.org/iajvs_affiliate_agencies.htm .
Goodwill: Similar skills training and placement services are offered Goodwill, which says that every 53 seconds of every business day, it places someone in a good job. There are 161 Goodwill community-based locations in the US that offer job training programs in a variety of industries including health care, hospitality, banking, IT, computer programming and more.
Goodwill also creates jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including janitorial work, packaging and assembly, and food service preparation. For example, Goodwill of Greater Washington has a custodial contracts business that cleans almost 8 million square feet of government and commercial office space every day, as well as provides pest control, landscaping and mailroom services.
Some of the training can be done in as little as a few weeks – others up to a few months. To find the location nearest you, visit www.goodwill.org or call 1-800-664-6577 and dial your zip code.
The National Urban League: The NUL has more than 100 chapters across the U.S, most of which offer resources, training and job/skill development at no charge. To find the location nearest you, visit https://nul.org/ .
When you register with temporary or permanent placement agencies, many of them offer access a comprehensive library of free tutorials designed to help improve the skill level of their candidates. If you’re working now with a temp agency, headhunter or outplacement firm, ask if they offer access to online training programs.
For example, a retired accountant who is looking to get back to work, can sign up with Robert Half, which specializes in placing accounting and finance professionals, and have access to 8,000 online tutorials which cover everything from technical accounting skills to leadership and public speaking.
Another example: The Kelly Learning Center, operated by Kelly Services, offers both professional and personal development courses. More than 500 courses are offered free to Kelly candidates.
Community Colleges and Online Universities:
There are more than 1,000 community colleges in the US that offer degrees and certifications in a range of fields.
eLeaners offers links to more than 200 online universities.
If you’re considering such a school or an online university, ask about financial aid and also about job placement assistance.
Every day Women For Hire hears from graduates of adult learning programs and they say they’re unable to turn that degree into a job offer. When we ask if they’ve talked to career services at their school, the answer is almost always no. Not good!
Find out in advance about the employers that hire from the program and ask specifically about the employment rate of 2008 graduates. Use that information when deciding on a program for you.
Imagine taking courses from MIT or other top flight universities – for free!
MIT has a program called OpenCourseWare which contains materials from all of MIT’s academic departments at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, voluntarily provided by MIT faculty that allows site users to download and modify the materials for noncommercial use.
The site contains notes from more than 1,500 lectures, 9,000 assignments, and 900 exams. Many courses include enhanced multimedia content, including 31 that contain complete video recordings of course lectures.
It’s all free; no credit, no degree, no access to faculty, but you can’t beat it for self-paced study from some of the most brilliant minds in economics, engineering, aerospace, and so much more. Again, it’s something to talk about on interviews – learning new skills from MIT while looking for a new job.
There is also a consortium of OpenCourseWare opportunities from other top flight colleges and universities worldwide. (View the database of worldwide OpenCourseWare opportunities.)
All current and completed coursework and training should be included on your resume.
Many trade organizations offer training programs to improve skill level within the field and to attract new workers.
One example is packaging, which is the nation’s third largest industry. PMMI recognizes the importance of workforce development and training in today’s high tech packaging industry.
As packaging machinery becomes increasingly complex and automation expands, upgrading the skills of packaging workers as well as developing new talent prepared to design, maintain and run these complex packaging systems is critical. PMMI offers practical, useful educational experiences based on real needs, helping individuals and companies take on real challenges.
PMMI helps members of the packaging workforce build personal connections and a sense of community that will serve their needs well beyond the dates of the course or program.
Check with the leading trade organizations in your current or desired field to learn about training opportunities.