Alert
Close

Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Join the Drive to End Hunger!

Highlights

Open

Real Possibilities

Think You Know AARP Caribbean Cruise Sweepstakes

Auto mechanics in repair shop. Small Business Resource Center

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

AARP-iPad-ePub-app
AARP Auto Buying Program

PROGRAMS & RESOURCES

Best Employers for Workers Over 50

See the latest winners of this AARP recognition program.

Your Own Business

Information for business owners, entrepreneurs and the self-employed.

Back to Work 50+

Connecting employers and unemployed workers 50+.

Most Popular
ARTICLES

Viewed

Land Your Next Job

Retraining classes at community colleges can lead to rewarding jobs

David Kieffer saw it coming, but still it stung. The 56-year-old from Eagle River, Wisconsin, had worked for three years as a carpenter's assistant, watching helplessly as home construction dried up. By the end of 2009 he was jobless and unable to find steady work. "I'd never had a problem finding a job before," he says. "I must have sent out 50 résumés — and didn't receive one reply." For a year he took odd jobs through a temp service.

See also: Best Employers for Workers Over 50.

Then, in January, Kieffer learned that Nicolet College, in nearby Rhinelander, was offering specialized job-training classes in cooperation with local employers. After being assessed by a Nicolet career counselor, Kieffer enrolled in computer literacy, blueprint reading, applied technical mathematics, and other courses, all geared toward obtaining a Manufacturing Fundamentals certificate.

Three months later one of Kieffer's instructors, an employee at HyPro Inc., a local machine shop that provides parts to industrial clients, recommended him for an interview. "Before I got home, there was a message that I'd start the following Monday," he says.

Kieffer had lucked into one of the best secrets in job retraining: community colleges. Politicians have paid a lot of lip service to the need to retrain displaced older workers, but most government programs have been ineffective. Private vocational institutes and for-profit colleges, meanwhile, sometimes inflate employment prospects. Community colleges that offer retraining programs in partnership with local employers have stepped into the breach.

"Few people think of a community college as a place to turn, but these schools create relationships with local businesses," says William J. Holstein, author of The Next American Economy: Blueprint for a Real Recovery, which examines the challenges of retraining displaced older workers. "Many potential employers sit on curriculum advisory committees or teach classes, meaning that graduates have a greater chance of getting hired."

Another benefit for cash-strapped job seekers: Community college tuitions average $2,700 a year — typically just one-fifth that of private, for-profit colleges and vocational schools. Flexible class scheduling (nights, weekends, or online) allows students to work part-time while studying. Moreover, community colleges offer, well, a community. "We provide a support system of assessment, career counseling, and job placement," explains Norma Kent, a senior vice president of the American Association of Community Colleges, which represents 1,200 schools. "We don't put you in a position to fail."

Socorro Flores, 63, counts herself a community college success story. In March 2010, after 22 years as a machine operator and then a custodian (to avoid being downsized) with Wrigley Manufacturing in Yorkville, Illinois, Flores was handed a pink slip and a retirement package. "My unemployment checks and severance weren't going to cut it," she says. "I had to find a job."

Next: Get a higher-paying position.>>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Woman sitting on sofa using laptop
membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

Mujer en la parte de afuera de so negocio

Free quotes for members from the AARP® Small Business Insurance Program.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Explore Your Learning Possiblities