Unemployment offers an opportunity to learn new skills or improve existing ones through online and classroom learning. There are a number of free and low-cost resources available nationwide serving individuals at all skill levels.
Career One Stop focuses on job searching, such as assistance with applying for unemployment benefits, resume writing and access to phones, faxes, computers to assist with your search, as well as access to on-site and online skills development workshops and training programs, most of which are free.
Career Voyages is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education designed to provide information on high-growth, in-demand occupations along with the skills and education needed to attain those jobs. There's access to apprenticeship and certificate programs in the areas that the Bureau of Labor Statistics determines are high-growth positions for both blue-collar and white-collar workers.
Jewish Vocational Service, which was founded during the Great Depression to assist immigrants with job training and placement, now operates 22 agencies throughout the country, serving nearly a half million people with a wide range of career-related services. More than 25,000 were placed in jobs last year as a result of the training they received. And JVS works with 40,000 employers of all sizes. The organization gets to know the business needs in its area and can customize training programs to meet the demands in a variety of industries.
Similar skills training and placement services are offered through Goodwill, which says it places someone in a good job every 53 seconds of every business day. There are 161 Goodwill community-based locations in the United States that offer job training programs in a variety of industries, including health care, hospitality, banking, information technology, computer programming and more.
When you register with temp agencies, many of them offer access to free tutorials designed to help improve the skill level of their candidates.
For example, a retired accountant who is looking to get back to work can sign up with Robert Half, which specializes in placing accounting and finance professionals, and has access to 8,000 online tutorials that cover everything from technical accounting skills to leadership and public speaking.
So, if you're working now with a temp agency, headhunter or outplacement firm, ask if it offers access to online-training programs.
There are more than 1,000 community colleges in the United States that offer degrees and certifications in a range of fields. If you're considering such a school or an online university, ask about financial aid and job placement assistance. Every day, I hear from recent graduates of adult learning programs who say they're unable to turn that degree into a job offer. When I ask if they've talked to career services at their schools, the answer is almost always no. Find out about employers who hire from the program, ask about the employment rate of 2008 graduates -- and consider that when deciding on a program for you.
Tory Johnson is the Workplace Contributor on ABC's "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women For Hire. Visit her Web site at www.womenforhire.com.