Providers of career training programs across the country are seeing a jump in enrollment during the pandemic. According to a recent survey conducted among 1,500 Americans, as many as 43% of individuals under age 40 are thinking about returning to school and furthering their education. Those laid off or furloughed are especially likely to think about continuing their education. Their motivation? 57% of those surveyed expect that furthering their education would result in a significant salary increase and almost half (49%) want to start a new career.
Among those respondents who said they might return or would return to school, 16% indicated plans for vocational training or other post-secondary options, such as medical billing, welding, culinary school, paramedic school and aesthetician programs.
Wake Tech reports that their enrollment numbers are on the rise, and administrators attribute it to individuals who lost their job during the pandemic wanting to train for new jobs.
“Many of them took that as an opportunity to step back and say ‘maybe I should make a career switch.’ If they lost their job or they were furloughed, that’s what a lot of the national surveys indicate,” the school’s president, Dr. Scott Ralls said.
New Mexico State University is responding to the need by creating a program with an eight-week term instead of the regular 16-week terms. Doing so accommodates adult learners aged 23 and older and allows learners to reap the benefits of furthering their education in a timely manner.
“We’re just moving into that direction to assist those adult learners to accelerate in their career paths,” said NMSU’s Vice Provost for Digital Learning Initiatives Sherry Kollmann. NMSU is expanding to offer more programs to meet the demand.
Competition for jobs remains tough, with unemployment well above pre-pandemic levels. In February 2021, there were 1.4 unemployed people for every open job, well above 0.82 twelve months ago.
“This means employers will have an easier time hiring, but job seekers still don’t have the bargaining power they did prior to the pandemic,” said Nick Bunker, director of research at Indeed Hiring Lab.
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