Retraining Could Open Up Your Path Back to Employment

Getting laid off can be tough to recover from.

Sooner or later, people who are out of work must remedy that situation. Here in the United States, most resources related to unemployment are managed and fulfilled by individual states. States also usually offer information, advice, and pointers to help those who are unemployed find new work.


Sometimes state employment agencies even offer job retraining. This term has a special meaning, and usually recognizes a focus on reskilling workers exiting declining industries, business sectors, or job markets, with an eye toward putting them to work in other economic niches that are on their way up.


The Pandemic Problem


Right now, however, pretty much all job markets are trending downward. Some kind of economic turnaround or improvement will be needed to reverse that trend, but it remains unclear when that might happen.


Even with all of the uncertainty out there, however, it seems pretty clear that our home sector of information technology (IT) is and will remain a good sector to target for finding a job. The problem, of course, is that many organizations have put hiring "on hold" while they're waiting for the economy to open back up once again and start moving more actively.


Then, too, for workers coming from other market sectors, there's the problem of reskilling in general, and of developing truly marketable skills and knowledge for individuals in particular. That said, lots of training companies are offering free or low-cost access to their training libraries, or to specific courses.


Thus, for example, CompTIA is offering free 30-day licenses to its CertMaster Learn e-learning course titled CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+). For those truly coming from someplace else, this would be a great opportunity to start learning, and see where one's interests and proclivities might lie.


Does Job Retraining Really Work?


Learning new skills to re-enter the workforce can be challenging.

The answer to the foregoing question apparently depends on who you ask. An article on the general subject of "Second Career Ideas" at has a page titled "How Career Change Programs Work." It starts by raising that very question, and then reporting on various answers.


Anecdotally and statistically, the most comprehensive answer to the question is, "Sometimes yes, sometimes no." A lot depends on the person and how much effort and energy they put into learning and then into their subsequent job search. It seems pretty clear, however, that those thinking about the job retraining route (especially for IT) should try to focus on something current or emerging, and in demand.


During the last recession, which kicked off in 2008, U.S. government agencies allocated $1.4 billion for job retraining. Critics charge, however, that such programs often fail to lead to new jobs (or careers) for laid-off workers.


The problem that emerged then is likely to be worse now, with lots of well-qualified, educated, and experienced people out of work and looking, opportunities for entry-level people and career changers could be scarce, if not slim to none. I think traditional IT entry points like tech support and help desk jobs will always remain available, because there's so much demand.


Further up the food chain (and pay scales), however, things get tougher. On the other hand, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 85 percent of laid-off workers who participated in job training programs in 2007 and 2008 were working within a year following such participation.


There's also something of a morale boost to be gained from training itself, apparently. Because the unemployed may become distressed, discouraged, or pessimistic, learning helps them fill their time and lead them into more productive and interesting forms of activity. There's also a follow-on effect, in that added needs for training create more jobs for instructors, trainers, teachers, and so forth.


Try to Identify Opportunities, Then Talk to Graduates


When it comes to job retraining, reskilling, upskilling and more, my advice is pretty much the same as it is for others considering certification training. Even if you're not paying for it, you're doing it to achieve certain results, among which finding a job probably ranks pretty highly.


Thus, once you go through your local equivalent of the Texas Workforce Commission (which oversees unemployment in my neck of the woods) and start identifying opportunities and programs, the next thing to do is to focus in on those that interest you and are also accessible to you.


The Texas Workforce Commission is tasked with helping the unemployed in Texas.

In my home state, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the clearinghouse for unemployment benefits, access to training, and job resources.


The very next thing after that is to try to find some people who have graduated from the program (or might be nearing graduation) to get their take on things. How well do they like it? What are the pros and cons? What kinds of job placement and job search/interview prep coverage do they offer?


If you're lucky, you'll find something that checks all the boxes. Don't settle for anything that doesn't at least come close. If you don't like what you see, keep looking. There are lots of programs and possibilities out there. Stay safe, be healthy, and find something good.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.