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How can the jobless adapt to 10.2 percent unemployment rate?

Spot growing fields in the economy and then find a retraining center. But such schools need to adapt quickly, and require more resources.

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As US unemployment has surged – the rate reached a 26-year high in October at 10.2 percent – so too has one solution to help bring it down: retraining in fields where jobs are available.

Worker mobility in learning new skills has become essential in a globally competitive economy, one in which new ideas are the job creators.

But not only workers but also schools need to adapt more quickly.

Last spring, for instance, Clackamas Community College near Portland, Ore., found a way to handle spiraling enrollment caused by a surge of students seeking new skills. It started "graveyard shift" welding classes from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Talk about burning the midnight oil.

People seeking employable skills – especially workers who have discovered that a high school diploma isn't enough – are flocking to schools like Clackamas that offer practical degrees quickly.

With nearly 16 million unemployed in America after 22 months of the economy shedding jobs, the country has a strong incentive to narrow the yawning "skills gap." And with more people unemployed longer, there's more opportunity for retraining – although job seekers often need information, the means, and a confidence boost to help them do it.

Many of the jobs lost in the great recession may not come back in the recovery. Economists point to manufacturing, real estate, and finance as particularly vulnerable.


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