“That can be easier said than done,” she says. “Figuring out how to get the training required to do that can be tricky.” But will the “Great Resignation” lead to a “great retraining” for workers who want to access jobs with better pay, benefits and working conditions?
Erin Hatton, associate professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo in New York, says the pandemic caused especially difficult conditions for consumer-facing workers, including risk of COVID-19 exposure and the responsibility to enforce mask compliance on customers, which created an “undue burden on workers they’re just not willing to deal with.” Pandemic-weary workers are questioning the value of their jobs, Hatton says, and this self-reflection may stir workers to switch fields — or at least attempt to. It’s doubtful, say experts like Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. He chalks it up to this: The U.S. isn’t very good at retraining workers.
WHY YOU MAY NEED TO RESKILL TO GET A NEW CAREER Changing careers often requires a new credential (a degree or certificate), meaning you’ll need some type of higher education. Employers across labor sectors require workers to have certain credentials, even in fields that used to be accessible without one.
Consider, for example, auto mechanics. Carnevale says this profession now requires a greater need for skilling, or training, in both mechanics and electronics. “It used to be you flip open the hood on your car and you could get out a wrench and fiddle with this and that, but you can’t do that anymore,” Carnevale says. “There really is an increase in skill requirements because of many reasons, but largely it’s tech-based.” NUMEROUS OBSTACLES TO RETRAINING
Hatton says “changing careers in a significant way” is particularly challenging for those who lack the time and money to train in a new field while balancing obligations like paying rent or a mortgage. Elder care and child care can also increase the burden. Retraining challenges are largely due to a lack of social support, and the onus is on the individual to figure it out on their own, says Katie Spiker, managing director of government affairs for the National Skills Coalition, a nonprofit organization that aims to raise skills of American workers across industries. She and other experts say federal investments and policies are crucial to solving unemployment, which has yet to reach pre-pandemic lows, and get workers reskilled.
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