Finding Your Place in Today’s Economy: Four Steps to the Career You Want

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

Top Stories in Literacy: April 16

Top Stories in LiteracyTeach Your Children Well-April is Financial Literacy Month
M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group, is using Financial Literacy Month to provide consumers a fiscal education lesson each week. This week’s tip is how your children can learn while they earn.

Young man with autism appeals to Obama for college opportunity
Billy Perogi is 20, autistic, and about to graduate from high school in Naples, Fla. He wants to go to college more than anything. Every school he and his mother have contacted has told them there is no program available for his specialized needs.

Indian River Adult education offering home health aide program
Indian River State College is offering career workshops on becoming a home health aide, security officer, phlebotomist, a new practical nursing program and excel classes for adult education students.

Job-seeking Collier County adults are back in class to catch up to computer skills
Fort Myers residents are among a growing number of both employed and unemployed adults seeking to better their lives and improve their current and future job marketability by going back to school for refresher courses on fundamental computer skills most of today’s teenagers take for granted.

Adult Learning Not Increasing With Internet Availability
Adults who are out of school are not necessarily active learners, for a number of reasons. With the growth of the Internet though, many hope that adults may use the technology available to them for some informal learning.

Top Stories in Literacy: April 2

Top Stories in LiteracyProgram teaches computer literacy to older generation
Seniors gather at the Hallmark, their assisted-living facility in Lower Manhattan, for computer classes. They wanted to begin the task of catching up with a technical world whose rapid-fire evolution has left much of America’s oldest generation isolated from its children, grandchildren and tech-savvy friends.

Teen’s Hip-Hop Song Wins Financial Ed Themed Contest
The contest was designed to tap the talent and creativity of teens across the U.S. to raise awareness of the importance of being smart about money, and to spread the word about the financial education program Money Matters: Make It CountSM available through all 2,900 Boys & Girls Clubs that serve teens.

AT&T Aspire: $250 million national job readiness program already given $800k locally
In its new $250 million initiative program called AT&T Aspire, the company aims to help young and driven students to graduate from high school with the technological tools and skills they need to advance into a successful career. Find out how to apply!

Digital Divide Impacts Technological “Haves,” Too
The failure to find tech-savvy talent is preventing U.S. companies from innovating their way out of their current financial doldrums. A survey by Moritz’s firm found that 57 percent of U.S. CEOs said that creating and fostering a skilled workforce should be a top government priority.

Sneak Peek at the Career Pathways Track at Conference

AHH! Conference Season is in the air. In seven weeks, we’ll have Conference and there will be much enjoyment in the air. If this is your first conference, I’ll let you know some tricks. Florida Literacy Conference has 13 different possible tracks to follow; Adult Learner, Corrections Literacy, ESOL, Program Management, Reading, Technology, Family Literacy, Health Literacy, Volunteers in Literacy, Learning Disabilities, Library Literacy, Workforce Education, and ABE, GED, and Adult High School. No matter what your interest area is, we have something for you. And if you have many interests, you can mix and match.

BUT if you’re interested in Career Pathways and plan on attending the Conference, we have a sneak peek for the sessions and their descriptions! The sessions aren’t overlapping time for the most part. This is the opportunity to get your schedules ready.

Sessions Include:

  • Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Using Advanced Organizers to Support Instruction
  • Let’s Make Student Success EASY
  • 10 Innovative Ways to Connect Learning with Career Pathways
  • Yes, You Can! Enhancing Student Tech Skills & Goal Setting Using Web 2.0 Tools
  • The Power of Testing: Why, What & Who to Assess
  • Technology Skills for career Success
  • English for Carer and Technical Education Standards
  • Top 10 Commandments of Building an Adult Education Career Pathways Program
  • Building a Local Database to Enhance Career Pathways
Select “Sessions Include” for more information on these sessions! What other tracks are you interested in? Perhaps I can do some detective work and provide you with other top secret information 😉

Top Stories in Literacy: March 12

Top Stories in Literacy

Adult Education Programs at Daytona State College Hit Hard by Fees
The 50.5 percent drop in enrollment occurred this spring semester at campuses in Volusia and Flagler counties compared to spring 2011. The drop is slightly higher than the 48.3 percent the college saw in the fall compared to fall of 2010.

Public Pressure Works as State Funds Return to Flagler’s Disabled Adults Services
It was a close call, but as of today (March 2), the Flagler County school district will not lose some $600,000 in state funds to run several programs for the disabled in its Adult Education division. In essence, most–but not all–of the 18 jobs in the division will be saved.

Parent Trigger Debate: Florida’s Controversial Parent Trigger Bill for Failing Schools
The “parent trigger” bill has prompted an outcry from critics, who view it as a way to snatch power from local school boards and convince parents to turn public campuses over to private companies.

Program Helps Unemployed Land Jobs
A Miami-Dade College program that once helped displaced homemakers is seeing more laid-off workers and retirees trying to get back into the job market. Computer classes most popular.

Helping Students Practice for a Job Fair and Interview

Career Pathways and workforce readiness have always been important topics in adult education. In the recent economy, it has been a strong drive for people to sign up for ESOL, ABE, and GED classes. In previous posts, we discussed how to integrate career readiness in everyday curriculum. Today I found some great videos to help your student prepare for a job fair or an interview. Role play with your students. Take turns being the interviewer and the interviewee for both of this situations.

How to Work a Job Fair
There are several job fairs that happen around the state of Florida focusing in different industries. Help your student stand out amongst the hundreds of other interest applicants by practicing these techniques.

Practicing for a Job Interview
Being prepared for a job interview can be the difference between being hired and barely making the cut. These videos go over how to answer the simple and tricky questions, as well as proper body language.