Getting back on track with Kirkwood

Area unemployment triples

If you were recently laid off, let go, or displaced at work, you’re not alone. Iowa Workforce Development reports unemployment rates more than tripled from March to April in both Linn and Johnson counties, where more than 23,000 individuals applied for unemployment in April alone.

Working but worried

Those fortunate enough to remain on the job are often discovering their job has changed. Workforce reductions tend to spread remaining teams thin, with workers being asked to do more — or do something different than what they were hired for or are comfortable with. When you
factor in the ongoing uncertainty about the future impact of COVID-19 and its economic repercussions, worry and stress in the workplace can amplify significantly.

Taking control during uncontrollable times

For anyone impacted at work by fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are positive steps and resources available to help.

“I think we’re all realizing there’s just a lot happening in today’s world that is simply out of our control,” said Mike Espinoza, director of admissions at Kirkwood Community College. “These past couple of months have really served as a wake-up call for a lot of members of the area’s workforce. We’re seeing a significant increase in people taking a serious look at what they actually can control in their lives, and looking for ways to help quickly get themselves back on track for a better future. Fortunately, they’re turning to resources like Kirkwood, where we are ready with achievable and affordable solutions and can help with changes they can make now to help better navigate this new employment landscape.”

Exploring crisis-proof jobs

“Now is a good time to look around and see who’s working,” explains Danielle Ebaugh, career services supervisor at Kirkwood. “There are many fields that lead to great jobs that tend to be crisis-proof and recession-proof. Kirkwood has short-term training options for dozens of certificates and degrees leading to in-demand jobs that typically keep people employed during volatile and uncertain times, including nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, dental assisting, first responders, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement, and more.”

Choosing a tuition-free degree

“A great way to get ahead is with one of Kirkwood’s 29 tuition-free degrees,” said Matt Falduto, Kirkwood’s financial aid director. “Students in these programs literally pay zero dollars in tuition thanks to the Last Dollar Scholarship and other financial aid awards. Anyone can qualify for fall 2020 enrollment if they graduated from high school this year or are 20+ years old. They simply need to complete the FAFSA (a federalfinancial aid application) before July 1 and enroll in a qualifying program at Kirkwood. The 29 eligible degrees are ones that lead to great jobs in high-demand areas, including healthcare, business, information technologies, industrial technologies, and agriculture.”

A complete list of Kirkwood’s tuition-free degrees can be found at www.kirkwood.edu/lastdollarscholarship.

Short-term, flexible options

Espinoza emphasizes that Kirkwood has multiple options for today’s worker to learn new skills and improve their hireability. “You can literally earn a specialized Kirkwood certificate or diploma in weeks or months, and complete degrees in two years or less. Our fall 2020 programs include options for on-campus classes, online classes, or a combination of both, giving you the flexibility to learn on your terms. If you are ready to get started right away, our FlexForward business classes for adult learners start every few weeks.”

More support, services, and assistance

Jon Buse, vice president of Kirkwood’s student services division, says taking steps now to improve your education is a journey you won’t take alone. “We’ve helped more than 200,000 people through all the ups and downs over the last 50+ years improve their lives with a Kirkwood education, and today is no different. We offer more support services, more advising, more counseling, more academic assistance, and more financial assistance than at any other time in our history.”

For more information on how Kirkwood is helping displaced and discouraged workers get back on track, visit www.Kirkwood.edu/laidoff.

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