The path to a new job

When the economy recovers, the jobs that many people held won’t be coming back.

So we’ve been interested in how Minnesotans are trying to retrain and remake themselves for the economy ahead. One, Tom Koller, has been letting us tag along on his quest and he checked in recently to tell us things are moving ahead for him.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for minnecon.smallicon.gifKoller, a source in MPR’s Public Insight Network from Eden Prairie, is in the state’s Dislocated Worker Program, trying to become a computer network administrator.

He had been a machinist / precision grinder until a layoff. He realized his old job wasn’t coming back. He’s turning 50. His unemployment benefits are set to run out in January.

The good news: His training plan’s been approved. Koller walked us through what he’s dealt with so far:

Okay, the state run Workforce Center has many services for unemployed people. One is the Dislocated Worker program. Its goal is to help people that find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own, with limited reemployment options, get a job.

One way is training. They have some courses of their own and they help fund others.

I have significant but dated IT (Information technology) experience. The IT industry is just getting full into a revolution. The day of the PC and physically limited access is over. The simplest already visible aspects of this are the ‘smart phone’ and the 3G network. It is creating jobs and I am easily trainable to get into it.

The money comes from the state, and may be supported by federal bailouts (Note: Dislocated worker program received $21 million in stimulus money.)

Once the Workforce center approves you, the non-profit company Hired takes over. They evaluate and dispense the money.

Now that I have been fully approved, they put my money in an account with Sun (Microsystems). I am waiting for Sun to process my order for online courses.

So now it is schooling and a continuing job search. Ideally, I will get an entry level system admin position while still doing online classes. With the condition I get my certification, of course.

If you’re looking to retrain, the opportunities are there in Minnesota. The WorkForce centers are across the state and continue to see lots of workers looking for help despite a drop in the jobless rate.

In the end, it’s all about snagging the job. That’s Koller’s bottom line.

“Will this work for me, who knows?” he says. “I think it has a good chance and so does Hired. If one of us didn’t, I wouldn’t get the money and add my own for the schooling.”


Are you trying to retrain now for a new kind of job? Post below and tell us about it, or contact me directly. You can help keep the conversation rolling.

Click on the map icons below to see what other Minnesotans have been telling us about the jobs climate around them.

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