Mounting layoffs from businesses large and small have more people than ever hitting the streets looking for work, only to find they need to upgrade their education and skills to find that next job.
While community colleges are the solution of choice for thousands, these displaced workers often need a financial helping hand. With the current crush of layoffs, many would-be students are finding some schools with their own empty pockets when it comes to Worker Retraining dollars, that is, except for Shoreline Community College.
“We are most fortunate to have money for our dislocated workers,” said Berta Lloyd, Dean of Workforce Education. While Shoreline had also tapped the Worker Retraining budget to its limit, college officials saw the need and were able to move money between funds “to free up money for tuition and books for these students,” Lloyd said.
Worker Retraining is a state-funded program that provides job-related training and employment services to dislocated and unemployed workers to help them gain additional training in their existing field or get started on a new career path.
According to Kim Cambern, Worker Retraining Program Manager at the college, SCC has approximately $130,000 available for new students and enough funding for current students for Spring Quarter. Still, potential students shouldn’t wait.
“It’s first-come, first-served,” Cambern said. She also warned that even at Shoreline, funding for some of the short-term programs is no longer available.
This past fall, more than 360 students using the Worker Retraining program were enrolled in classes at Shoreline, 40-50 percent more than just a few years ago. The numbers were higher for Winter Quarter and are expected to jump again for Spring Quarter.
The new Solar Design and Installation Program at Shoreline is one of the more popular programs for students returning for retraining. Students have the option to complete short-term courses or complete a one-year program.
“Our program is truly on the cutting edge nationally, really globally, in the move toward alternative energies and sustainability,” Lloyd said. “We’re focused on providing the education and training needed to move workers into this new and growing field.”
Free tuition and books are provided through Shoreline’s Worker Retraining program and are typically available for up to two quarters. Qualified students can go to an orientation and register in one of the college’s 50 professional-technical programs.
Worker Retraining students also receive career counseling and job search support. A state Employment Security Services office is also located on campus.
Additionally, Worker Retraining students can choose to take occupational supplemental classes to upgrade their skills; earn a certificate or an AAAS degree.
Funding is distributed to all community colleges at the beginning of each fiscal year, July 1, so additional money is expected to be available at that time, Lloyd said.