It seems that everywhere you turn lately, people are losing their jobs. Or their organization is downsizing, leaving them wondering if the next visit to the boss’s office will include a complimentary cardboard box for their personals. This economic downturn that we are experiencing is being felt in every facet of our lives, every profession, and every community, as well as every age group. I know of more than a few men and women who have been cut from the payrolls and are having considerable trouble securing a new job. Age discrimination is supposed to be illegal, but one friend of ours decided to color her hair from a lovely silver to up her chances in the job derby. And guess what… it worked.
My own profession of teaching is not immune to troubles. Generally considered a recession-proof field, education is seeing not only cuts in staff numbers but also an overall reduction in new hires. Some boards of education are being forced to face the problem of increased classroom numbers in order to meet their fixed budgets. They are simply not filling the open jobs that have come about through attrition.
There is a problem here. Some folks in the older ages who find themselves jobless have taken up “re-careering”. Originally termed for those who have retired and then still find a need to use their skills in other full-time pursuits, we are finding many who are looking to education as their ace in the hole. Our own state has a controversial program that is designed to speed up the certification process for those who currently have a degree. Those for this plan see it as an opportunity to bring experienced and mature professionals in the sciences and other areas into the classrooms. The opponents, some of whom are the teacher associations and some of whom are school districts themselves, cite the lack of methods training offered in the certification process.
I can see both sides as having valid points, but lean toward the former, especially if the new teacher can handle the rigors of 25+ not-always-so-eager learners for 7 hours a day, 186 days a year. Of course, what with the aforementioned cut backs in many districts, these folks may have difficulty finding that opening.
There is an emotional side to all of this, to be sure. Having to leave a place where you have enjoyed not only the work but also the people you see everyday is not easy. Then, the task of retooling the resume, seeking job leads, working the internet, networking and otherwise selling yourself all over again can take its toll on even the most optimistic job-seeker. Especially now, when much of what they are hearing is not good news. On the other hand, some have been able to use this time as a rebirth. They really didn’t like the job, or the people. This layoff might just be a blessing in disguise, giving them a good excuse to branch out into areas they have always wanted to try but feared to because of the security of their current position. But now that the rug has been pulled out from under them, they have the chance to take that road less traveled.
I guess the message here is one of hope. In spite of the times, there are opportunities.
(SUBURBAN JOURNALS, ST. LOUIS, MO JULY 29, 2009)