Mid-Career Job Crisis: Retraining for San Diego's Economy
Enrollment is booming in California's two-year higher education programs. Officials expect a five to 16 percent increase as more adults return to school to continue their education or train for indust
When Grossmont College freshman Marco Quintero enrolled in a statistics night class, he was surprised to find himself surrounded by students closer to his parents' age than his own.
After checking to see that he was in the right place, he discovered that most of the adults were returning to school as part of a two-year accounting certificate program.
“The older students seem more motivated and dedicated, like they have a focused goal,” Quintero said.
That motivation may be coming from the current state of San Diego's job market and an overall decline in the national economy.
Enrollment is booming in California's two-year higher education programs. Officials expect a five to 16 percent increase as more adults return to school to continue their education or train for industries that offer more job opportunities.
“Most re-entering adults either lost their jobs because their industries have gone into decline, or the job they have doesn't pay enough," said Nancy M. Davis, supervisor at the Grossmont College Adult Reentry Center (http://www.grossmont.edu/adultreentry/).
The reentry center offers resources and support for people who have been out of school for five or more years and are returning for more education.
"Many adults are coming back to school ... most are anxious about the transition, and adult reentry gives them guidance through the process," Davis said.
A report released by the San Diego Workforce Partnership shows the current San Diego unemployment figure is 6.4 percent, better than the state average, which rose to 7.7 percent in August. But, the number of jobs is not the real issue - the problem, verified in the report, is there aren't enough workers with the necessary math and science education to fill the higher-paying positions.
One of the conclusions of the report is that San Diego "must help its residents acquire the education and training to fill the region’s high-skill, high-wage jobs."
The report forecasts the highest growth in professional, scientific, technical, and healthcare related fields in the county. The industries facing the biggest decline are in real estate, transportation, and manufacturing.
Reentry centers at community colleges throughout San Diego County help people who have lost their jobs by finding them temporary work, identifying a more marketable line of work and directing them to the appropriate classes.
Nurses and healthcare technicians are two of the professions in the highest demand, but getting certified in those professions could take some time. The certification programs require a minimum of two years to complete, and, according to Associate Dean of Nursing, Debbie Yaddow, Grossmont College has a three-to-four year waitlist for its nursing program. She said because of that lag time, the move towards a more balanced job market in San Diego will likely be gradual.
The Workforce Partnership report concludes that only with the focused guidance of community resources on adult retraining will the situation measurably improve.