By: Gloria Mwase, Jobs for the Future
Even in today’s slow growth economy, many employers continue to note that they can not find the skilled workers they seek. Here are some steps adult learners can take to access this economic opportunity as they seek to establish a career.
1. Know your interests.
Many of us have never stopped to think about the kind of work we would love to do. However, there are many resources available to help you identify your skills and interests, and the types of careers related to them. For example, check out the DOL’s MyNextMove career tool or visit Florida’s Career Choices.
2. Choose your “best bet” career.
Once you have identified your skills, interests, and potential careers, narrow down to the one you want to pursue. Consider whether this selected occupation has current job openings in your region, the certificates or degrees needed to get the job, and wages or salaries offered to those who hold this position. Your local One Stop Career Center is a good source for this information. Get real time information (through job shadowing or interviewing someone doing the job) before you make your final selection.
3. Get the skills valued by the employers in your region.
After you’ve made your career choice, your One Stop Career Center can help you identify some training options.
Be sure to do your homework! Some training programs don’t have a good track record of helping participants complete their programs, get the certificates or degrees that employers want, and enter into a career. Other programs differ in their costs and in the length of time it takes to complete.
Keep in mind that some training programs offer more help than others. You might need to get a GED or be in need academic support, financial aid, child care, or transportation assistance. You might need skills to help you prepare for the world of work (resume writing, interviewing, time management, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, using a computer, etc.) Seek programs that provide access to these services and resources for eligible students or partner with organizations that do.
4. Find your place in a new career.
Once you are equipped with the skills and credentials that employers value, you will be ready to go out there and apply for a good job. Get assistance with job placement through your One Stop Career Center or other programs that have trusted relationships with employers. You can also help to increase your marketable skills by seeking work experience (e.g. paid or unpaid internships) in your related career wherever you can find it.
The length of this process will, of course, depend on a number of factors, including your skill levels, the amount of time you have to apply to training, and the resources you have to contribute to this effort. But if you stay the course, you’ll reach your goal. You’ll find not only the job you want, but a career you’ll love.
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Gloria Cross Mwase is a program director at Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit that aligns education with today’s high-demand careers. With its partners, JFF develops policy solutions and new pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for struggling and low-income populations in America. Learn more at www.jff.org.