Boosting post-secondary and career success
Posted on 10/22/14
Navigating the higher ed landscape in Ohio can be daunting. Read this guide for pointers and resources to help chart your course.
Resources to help set your courseHannah Halbert
Skilling up by getting a post-secondary credential is increasingly important in Ohio’s labor market. Higher education can provide some insurance against long stretches of unemployment. It can help you access better jobs that provide decent pay and benefits, and are connected to a career ladder, so you can move up. Skilling up can help your entire family, but it is really hard to know where to start.
The larger report identified some barriers to post-secondary success and looked at partnerships to help bring more adults into higher education and keep them there. This appendix offers some advice to adults ready to start or restart climbing the skill ladder. This section offers guidance on getting started: How do you learn about the local job market and about in-demand skills? How can you figure out what skills, credentials and licenses are needed for a particular job? How do you decide on a particular school or training provider? And, how on earth do you pay for it all?
This appendix is a guide, but it’s not definitive. There are many programs, resources and pathways that are not included. The programs covered could also change over time. Whether you qualify for assistance will depend on your unique situation.
Returning to school can be expensive and at times, frustrating. However, it can also change your life and help set your child up for future success. Here are some ways to get started:
What skills will pay the bills?
Figuring out what to study is the first step and it can be a tough one. One way to start is by thinking about what kinds of work you find enjoyable. Do you like working in an office setting, or outside? Do you enjoy working with people or independently? What subjects do you enjoy learning about? You should think about how you would like to spend your work hours.
You should also consider the job market and the realities of the field. Is it an in-demand job, or better yet is the training directly connected to an employer and a job opportunity? What is the likely pay and benefits for a worker just entering the field? Think about the long-term impact of completing the training program and consider whether the length of the program and cost makes sense for you and your family.
Sometimes it’s not feasible to commit to a 2 or 4-year program. Training connected to a career pathway can help. A career pathway breaks down a long-term training program into smaller training chunks. An example of a carpentry pathway from Ohio Means Jobs is included here. You can complete a shorter program, earn a credential that is career-connected, enter the workforce, and continue to the next level of training.
Think outside the office. Keep an open mind about potential career choices. Becoming a truck driver or carpenter may not be at the top of your list. However, these careers have shorter-term training requirements, or shorter chunks of training that can move you forward, and they are projected to have lots of openings in the coming years. Plus, they both have median wages well above minimum wage. Median wage for truck driving is $18.51 and for carpenters its $20.44. This is a particularly important consideration for women. Too often, women find themselves in jobs that offer less pay and less scheduling control. For example, Certified Nursing Assistant is a more “traditional” skilled occupation for women. The field is projected to be a fast growing occupation in the region and requires only short-term training, but the median wage is only $9.37.
Women can find career success in trade and technical work. The work can be high wage and high benefit, offering real opportunities for career success and family stability. Tri-C is home to two union-partnered vocational programs, the Construction Apprenticeship and Steelworker for the Future, that can help women access these jobs.
Another consideration is whether the occupation has licensing or other restrictions. If you have a criminal record or are an undocumented immigrant some jobs may not be open to you. Ohio has made some effort to remove barriers to work for workers with a criminal conviction, but many remain. Career counselors and advisors should be able to tell you about these requirements. The Ohio Justice and Policy Center provides an online database of barriers that might come from a criminal conviction or offense and has information on ways some barriers can be eliminated. The Center is also home to information about eliminating or reducing convictions as a barrier to work.
Resources to help sort it out:
Ohio Means Jobs Center - Cleveland/Cuyahoga (Formerly Employment Connection)
A one-stop career and training center. The center provides online services but also staff-assisted guidance. They can provide information on skills, occupations, and training opportunities. The center may also provide some training. They also provide GED preparation and information.
Phone- (216) 664-4673
In person- 1020 Bolivar Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Agency dedicated to help individuals prepare for jobs, keep them, and move up the career ladder. The agency provides job readiness and job search training, supportive services to help clients be successful, including legal services, and assistance with vocational and technical training.
In person- 1255 Euclid Ave., Suite 300, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Tri-C offers adult basic education programs, GED preparation assistance, and several pathway programs geared toward adult learners in addition to trade and technical training programs. The Women in Transition program is an eight-week course that helps women assess skills, training, and occupation options.
Women in Transition
By Phone- 800-954-8742
Ohiomeansjobs.com website is a “virtual” one-stop career shop. The site is a partnership between the state of Ohio and Monster.com. You can use the site to search for jobs and post your resume but it also houses a variety of resources you can use to explore your own interests and skills, careers, and training resources. Users can register with the site to keep their information and save their progress. Because the website is so packed with information, it can be difficult to navigate and confusing. Ohio Means Jobs Centers may help you navigate the resources available through the website.
Picking a training provider.
There are three broad categories of education and training providers:
Public: Public institutions are owned by the state. They are often less expensive in tuition and fees than private institutions. Public institutions can be four-year schools, like Cleveland State University or two-year schools, like Tri-C. Community colleges generally offer a variety of shorter term, work connected training, in addition to longer programs of study and several accelerated programs that transfer to four-year schools.
Private, nonprofit: These institutions can offer both four-year and two-year programs but they are operated by private nonprofit organization instead of the state. Nonprofit organizations are mission-driven and directed by a board of trustees.
Private, for profit (proprietary): Private, for profit (proprietary schools) typically offer short-term training programs. Proprietary schools are profit-driven and they make money for their owners and shareholders by selling education and training.
Your career goals will help guide you to the type of provider best suited to your goals but there are some important considerations. Private institutions are generally more expensive than public ones, even when the course of study is similar. Many proprietary institutions have come under national scrutiny for aggressive recruitment tactics and some data suggests that proprietary school students leave with more debt, are less satisfied with their education, and are more likely to not be working or enrolled in school six years after starting. Many public institutions provide high-quality long- and short-term training at a relatively affordable price. The institution type will also affect the type of financial aid you can receive.
The training provider should be accredited and licensed with the state. The institution should also be approved by the U.S. Department of Education so you can qualify for federal and state financial aid. If you are seeking additional financial support through the Workforce Investment Act you should confirm that the institution and program is on the state’s qualified list of WIA training providers. Ohio Means Jobs Center staff can help.
You should also ask about dropout rates, graduation rates and in-field job placement rates for the institution and for the course of study you are interested in. If your field requires a license or certification exam, learn about how the school prepares students to pass and how many take the exam and succeed. You should also know what support services are available to students. Does the school offer tutoring, child-care, or transportation assistance?
Get a good understanding of each school’s career resource center. Are they connected to employers in the field? Do they provide additional services after graduation? Does the school have an active alumni organization and can you reach out to former students in your field?
If schools make promises they should be in writing. Program information, graduation rates, services, and policies should be available in writing in the institution’s materials