Re-entry students seek training for recession-proof career options

The average age of a community college student is 29. (//

Tim White

The economic recession is the worst the United States has experienced in 26 years, the Commerce Department said Friday. In addition, it appears it probably will get worse before it gets better.

Reuters reported that U.S. gross domestic product fell at its sharpest rate in almost 27 years, during the last quarter of 2008. To the average taxpayer, this translates to an increase in layoffs with CNN reporting that 2.6 million jobs were cut last year. Every day, as more people enter the already flooded job market, the competition for whatever positions available becomes increasingly cutthroat.

“A lot of people are getting laid off and needing to re-invent themselves,” said Mike Engels, Career Guidance Services, Saddleback College.

With bills to pay, and oftentimes a family to support, time is of the essence.  Some already have a degree compiled with years of experience, but they need to polish job skills, or turn to technical training in a completely different subject area, looking to the more than 75 various subjects covered in Saddleback’s Certificate Program.

The Center for Career and Life Development offers students resources for planning life after Saddleback. There was an 89 percent increase in student appointments for the fall 2008 term over the fall 2007 term.

Another office burdened by the current economic situation is the Re-Entry and Women’s Resource Center. Its officer, Sholeh Alizadeh, counsels students who return to school after a break in their education. This includes students who wish to further their education, adult students who have never attended college and individuals looking for a career change.

“We help people remove educational barriers,” said Alizadeh.

Both offices are noticing an increase of interest in the health care field, which ranks at the top of Kiplinger’s “Recession-proof careers.”  The logic behind this is that as the baby boomers move toward their golden years, they will require the same amount of care, regardless of the condition of Wall St.

“The problem is that people are only interested in short-term training,” said Engels. Saddleback’s top-rated nursing program has been generating quite a bit of interest, but many of the potential students have immediate cash flow needs and cannot commit to the time required to complete the courses.

“I’m seeing so many people just desperate for a job,” said Alizadeh, who reports a hike in the number of appointments from California’s Employment Development Department. EDD is a publicly funded department that assists job seekers in developing career paths.

“I suppose this is just a sign of our times,” said Engels.

The career center is located in SSC 140. For more information, visit

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