How Career Change Programs Work

By: John Perritano

Where to Go for Job Retraining

For many teens, the summer job is an annual rite of passage, as much a part of summer as mosquito bites and ice cream. For the past several summers, Destiny Sullens has worked at the Red River Museum in Idabel, Okla., a job she first got through a government-run program that allowed students to gain real-world work experience. Although she is now a student at Columbia University, Sullens still works at the museum each summer [source: Moss].

Sullens is one of millions of Americans who rely on government-sponsored job programs. In 1998, Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act, which rewrote the federal statutes governing job training programs. The program made it easier for state and local officials to use federal money to train workers [source: U.S. Department of Employee Services].


In addition, President Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package in 2009 that provided billions of dollars in job retraining funds [source: Clark].

Some government programs are geared toward veterans, others toward youth. For example, Job Corps is a free program that helps young people learn a career and earn a high school diploma or a GED [source: Job Corps]. Also, many state and local governments provide job training services.

Government isn't the only sources of job training. Many employers offer on-the-job programs so employees can hone their skills. Temporary employment agencies also train those seeking work. Online universities and many not-for-profit groups have programs that allow workers to retrain, retool and reenergize their careers [source: Johnson].

Community colleges are great resources for job retraining, too. When the economy slumps, community college enrollment tends to increase. That's what happened in 2009 in Texas. As the economy worsened, enrollment in the state's community college system increased by nearly 37,000 as people sought new skills [source: Kever]. Recognizing the importance of community colleges in job training, Congress put $2 billion aside to help colleges partner with businesses to train workers in emerging industries [source: Aquije].