Should I Go Back To School?

The economy is bad. We’ve all read countless articles and watched numerous media reports on the thousands of job losses, bankruptcies and company closures. Some unemployed workers are taking this time as an opportunity to further their education, but with credit so tight, is it worth it?

CEO John Challenger advises to take a hard look at your individual financial situations. It’s difficult to pay the cost of college courses or retraining programs without bringing in income. Night classes or a part-time class load coupled with some sort of employment, be it consulting work or other part-time work, may ease the transition, rather than taking on a full-time course load.

Moreover, according to our annual Job Search Advice Call-In, many workers are hesitant to go back to school, some citing cost while others cited already advanced degrees.

The survey was conducted among approximately 500 callers during the 23rd annual two-day free job search advice call-in conducted December 29 and 30 by global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Overall, the call-in received more than 1,200 during the two-day event.

Seventy-six percent of this year’s callers were unemployed, a sharp increase from a year earlier, when just over half (55 percent) of calls came from individuals who were out of work. The median length of unemployment among callers was about 6 months.

According to the survey, 65 percent of callers were unwilling to relocate for a new position and 58 percent were unwilling to go back to school.

Adding new skills and knowledge through continuing education could lead to more job opportunities, but most callers cited the cost of further school as the primary deterrent. The government may want to examine ways to make relocation and/or education more affordable.

In the Chicagoland area, Oakton Community College is offering local residents available tuition funds free on a number of programs ranging from “green” marketing and manufacturing to computers to pharmaceutical programs. Opportunities such as this bring necessary training and potential to advance after a difficult setback.

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