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25 Jan 2010

‘Subpar’ economy to spur increased college enrollments in 2010

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January 25, 2010 Category: Color Of Money Posted by:


With millions of jobs lost in 2009, unemployment rates were at their highest in decades. But does the new year bring a brighter future? Economists project a “subpar growth” for 2010.


Findings in the latest CareerBuilder survey show that 20 percent of employers plan to increase full-time hires this year. That is a 14 percent increase from 2009. However, unemployment rates are expected to hover around 10 percent this year.


Rather than stay in shrinking industries, many unemployed workers are turning to higher education in industries with more plentiful career opportunities. The survey identifies information technology, health care, education and financial services careers to be hiring the most in 2010.


“They are always good, strong programs, but in a weak economy, people evaluate what they are going to go into based on what is in demand and stable,” says Andy Hanson, dean of student services at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. “Those ‘helping’ professions tend to be popular, even more so than normal.” Universities and online schools see stable and strong enrollment in “helping” degree programs such as teacher education, health care and social work, noted Hanson.


Sherry Fitzgerald of Detroit is a part of this transition. When she lost her job at a Detroit auto plant six months ago, she began investigating other careers. “I had always thought of becoming a nurse,” Fitzgerald says. “I knew the pay and the job security were good.”


Now more than halfway through her program, Fitzgerald has left the troubled American auto industry for a secure, lucrative career in health care, and she’s not alone. Statistics show that enrollment at universities and colleges has jumped in the last six months, and most of those enrolling are victims of layoffs.


“They realize they can’t stay where they were,” says university career adviser Robert Green from “They’ve got to adapt, and education is the best way to do it.”


Rick Murphree, president of Brown Mackie College campus in Boise, says enrollment was over 600 in September 2009, a year after the campus opened. High unemployment, and a large percentage of people seeking to change careers after losing longtime jobs with established companies, helped drive better-than-expected growth, Murphree says.


College enrollment trends follow economic trends and a poor economy pushes more people to seek further education and training. Students can participate in online colleges which are ideal for people who want to come back to school while holding down jobs, and secure themselves for advancement.


This new peak in college enrollment has come in the midst of a recession and has had an especially harsh impact on young adults. Only 46 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds were employed in September 2009 – the lowest in recorded history, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Jeff Turgeon, executive director of the Central Massachusetts Regional Employment Board, says it’s not unusual to see college graduates go back to school to get specialized training. Many people see the recession as a chance to finish what they started years ago.


“Even as the economy shows some signs of improvement, employment is a lagging indicator, and it may take some time before there are jobs for those who need them,” he says. Even if unemployment does get better in 2010, the jobs are likely to require very specific skills, requiring workers to get special training.


“I don’t see the enrollment slacking anytime soon,” Turgeon says.


Many workers are taking advantage of the economic situation to further their education. You too can go back to school and earn a degree in a more secure, high-paying field by completing the helpful online form at An education adviser will help you find the right degree program to set you on a new career path. Or, call to speak with a career counselor at (888) 240-9711.

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