Job Training courses

adult education classBy Peter Weddle

Career Training Courses are a waste of time – at least, that's the conclusion of the U.S. Labor Department after studying the experience of 160, 000 laid off workers who went through subsidized career training courses. After surveying how these newly-trained job seekers fared in the job market, the DOL found that their career training courses neither helped them get a new job, nor hang onto one if they were able to get hired.

So does that mean you shouldn't bother with additional career training courses when you're looking for a new job? Absolutely not. But there's a right way and a wrong way to go about upgrading your career skill set. And the key to success is to recognize the difference between the two, and to immerse yourself in the kind of courses that will actually help you.

A recent article in The New York Times recounted the experience of an administrative assistant who was laid off in early 2009. The state unemployment office urged him to upgrade his skills, so he spent six weeks in a training program on word processing and spreadsheets. He finished the course, updated his resume and started looking for a new job. But he never got a single job offer. Why? Because, as the Department of Labor's own research shows, the job market for administrative assistants is shrinking, not growing. This person took training courses for a career with a nonexistent job market.

peter weddleHowever, while this type of story is all too familiar today, it does not mean that career training courses are a waste of time. The problem is that most courses promoted by state governments are designed to give you specific job skills, so you can get a job that you wouldn't have been qualified for in the past. But if demand for that specific job declines, the courses become worthless. So how can a career training course be a smart long term investment, instead of just a temporary (and often ineffective) fix?

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