Help for those changing careers

By Brendan Prebo

A Michigan college will help the community prepare for new and future jobs.

Data show that the average person will change careers five times during their working life, and potentially change jobs 15 times. Washtenaw Community College (WCC) is opening a new Career Transitions Office to prepare employers, individuals and the community for those future jobs.

“The days when you train for one job that you keep for the rest of your career are over,” WCC President Rose B. Bellanca said. “Changing technology in the workplace means we all have to commit to a process of continuous training and lifelong learning to be successful.”

The Career Transitions Office will be open to everyone in the community, not just students.

“The purpose of the office is not to tell individuals what classes to take, but rather to provide a place for anyone to go for help in identifying the skills they may need to find a new job or move ahead in their current career,” she said.

The new office will provide anyone access to assistance with evaluating marketable skill sets and recommended next steps. It’ll provide information about options for obtaining new skill sets, which include industry-based certification preparation and testing, workforce training, apprenticeship opportunities and certificates or degrees. Those coming to the center also will receive job placement assistance including job search, resume development, interviewing skills and topical workshops.

“More than 15 percent of our students at WCC already have a four-year college degree, anywhere from a bachelor’s degree to a Ph.D.,” said Bellanca. “Why are they here? Because the skills people need for jobs in the 21st century are constantly changing.”

According to Michelle Mueller, WCC vice president for economic, community and college development, short-term, industry-based certificates are an example of one tool that can benefit people on both ends of the work experience spectrum.

“Through our work in the community with various economic development agencies, we meet with industry leaders to find out what employers need in terms of short-term technical training,” said Mueller. “Then we offer that training either through credit-based degrees and certificates or workforce training.”

Brendan Prebo

is associate vice president of marketing and communications at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan.