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Career Change: Learning New Skills

The winds of change blow workers down new career paths requiring additional education and training and creating an opportunity to fill skills gaps in a new job in a new field.
Career Change: Learning New Skills

Phillip Germain, Meridian Tech adult student, gains the skills that can help him find a new job in a new field.

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Show 1425: Career Change: Learning New Skills


Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, Labor Department statistics show that young people entering the workforce this year will on average have between 15 and 20 different jobs over the course of their working lives.

And often times these jobs are in completely different career fields – sometimes by choice and sometimes by circumstance. Our Alisa Hines introduces us to an Oklahoman who says the winds of change are blowing workers like him down a new career path.

Alisa Hines: Today Phillip Germain is working on a computer, but it’s not what he’s been doing for the last 30 years.

Phillip Germain: I worked as a shipyard worker, sheet metal mechanic and welder for around six years. And the rest of my life, I worked in factories, manufacturing, boat motor plants, assembly, things of that nature. During the recession, I was laid off from my job, and I wasn’t finding a whole lot in the area. Matter of fact, it frustrated me because I actually watched plants shut down instead of hiring more people.

Alisa: A fate many workers may face some day. But for Phillip, rather than worry about the job that disappeared, he’s focusing his efforts on gaining the skills that can help him find a new job in a new field. And he likes the change of pace.

Germain: The IT field and going to school here, I think, is very different. It’s a lot more of a quiet and laid-back environment. I like the idea of working at my own pace. I learn a lot from it that way because instead of placing the student in a box, everybody’s at a different level. And I learn a lot by working at my own level. It seems to help me quite a bit.

Alisa: And coming to Meridian Tech just made sense to Phillip.

Germain: Well, with my age, I already have, currently have student loans from going to school at NOC and OSU, and Meridian was a good option for me because I can finish school in a year and a half to two years, and it was pennies on the dollar compared with what I could go back to college for.

Alisa: Meridian’s Rebecca Eastham says having an articulation agreement in place with a university is really the way to go.

Rebecca Eastham: Students can come to a technology center, gain a fabulous skill, a trade, those technical skills, industry certification and begin to be competitively employed right away, but at the same time can launch their college career as well. So it’s not, you know, I have to do one or the other – I can choose to do both.

Germain: By the time I graduate, I’ll have my network engineering degree.

Alisa: And according to Phillip’s instructor Daniel Devers, going back to school is half the battle.

Daniel Devers: We have a unique opportunity in the CareerTech System that we not only get to teach high school students, but adult students as well. And it always differs between, you always get background story of an adult, and it’s very unique and interesting to hear their stories about how they’ve come back to education and how they want to retrain themselves to get a better job or to get a better position in society.

Germain: I find it very challenging to go back to school as an adult. Things have changed quite a bit, and I just have to study a little bit harder and try a little bit harder on some of the curriculum and things, but I’ll make it through.

Alisa: Focusing on the future.

Germain: I think I want to graduate and I plan on working for a large corporation – possibly a large hospital. I can start out small in the IT field and maybe work my way up. I would like to eventually get my Network Plus Comp/TIA certification. I think that’ll be very helpful, and this class prepares me for that and gets me ready so I can pass that exam and have it on my resume.

Alisa: Retraining by learning new skills and filling the skills gap to a future that’s on the rise.

Rob: Now, when we return we look at the flipside of people changing careers from time to time and see how industry is looking for rapid workforce development.

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