Tough Sledding in the Job Market — Even with New Skills

Published on Mar 17, 2010

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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Time and again here at EMSI, we’ve seen clients (workforce boards, community colleges, etc.) help people acquire new in-demand skills — and, most importantly, new jobs. But it’s not always that easy, especially during prolonged downturns like the one we’re in right now.

To illustrate, The Wall Street Journal this morning has an excellent look at the difficulty laid-off workers are having finding jobs, even after going back to school for retraining. The article chronicles the story of a 47-year-old New Jersey woman who returned to school (at Atlantic Cape Community College) for a office-technology program. But since completing the course — and an internship — she’s had no luck finding a job.

The WSJ hits on some key points when it comes to community colleges and retraining.

First …

Economists agree that retraining pays off, eventually.

“The labor market just isn’t doing a lot of hiring right now, but there are obviously long-run payoffs” to retraining, says Harvard economist Lawrence Katz. He says that’s especially true for skills that can be applied to a variety of jobs.

Second (and this is particularly crucial) …

“The best we can do is stay in touch with the business community and what’s happening,” says economist Richard Perniciaro, director of the college’s Center for Regional and Business Research.

The college has emphasized courses such as computer-network administration, where more jobs are available.

Third …

For many workers, training opens doors—but it doesn’t necessarily shorten the job search at a time of high unemployment.

To read more on how EMSI helps colleges and WIBs with retraining efforts, check out this recent post.