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Reeducating yourself

November 13, 2008 7:57:07 AM PST
Ze'ev Aatlas did not plan to enroll at Bergen Community College, until after the day he lost his full time job as a computer programmer. "I thought about the mortgage; that it would be hard to pay it," he said.

A part-time programming job helps, as Ze'Ev studies accounting. Healthcare-based courses, like nursing, is popular at community colleges along with teacher training programs.

"It's very important to continue your education because, given the global economy, I think personally that everybody is going to have to renew their skills," student Virginia Palau said.

An increasing number of people are getting that message.

"I was just at a meeting last week where lots of community college presidents were together, and we report just huge spikes in enrollment, mostly coming from people who were unemployed, trying to get trained, or the larger number is people who are fearful of unemployment," said G. Jeremiah Ryan, president of Bergen Community College.

Rafael Juliano quit his state government job and returned to school, after he saw hiring freezes and job buyouts.

"In my sight, job cuts were going to be next so I didn't want to stick around for that," he said.

There are community college benefits across the tri-state area. Depending upon your income, you could be entitled to a free re-training program for up to 26 weeks, while you collect unemployment compensation, or a free apprenticeship program, or attend college tuition-free. For eligibility, contact your state department of labor.

"I think we're the way out of the economic downturn. We're the workforce development schools. We're the places that people are going to come to find their way out of the recession," Ryan said.

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