Extending unemployment benefits can mean more training, say local experts

By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - An extension of unemployment benefits could mean an added bonus, according to the head of the Career and Technology Center in Cape Girardeau.

Rich Payne says that extension could increase the amount of training and education displaced workers can take advantage of in an effort to find a new career.

"Then, their marketability in the workforce is much better. And now they have an opportunity, and they have credentials behind their resume to move themselves forward in the workforce," Payne explained.

"It's scary," Kim Leslie said, describing her efforts to find a new career.

Leslie spent 14 years at Blue Cross Blue Shield before being laid off last spring.

"And so now, starting over in the middle of your life, it's kind of hard to figure out what you want to do," Leslie said.

But, Leslie won't have to go it alone. Thanks to the Trade Readjustment Act, she qualifies for job training at the Career and Technology Center. An extension of unemployment benefits would mean more time here to learn a new skill.

Leslie met with CTC Assistant Director Dean Whitlow to find out about training in the healthcare field.

"Healthcare has certainly stayed strong in this tough economy and so we have a lot of applicants looking at healthcare programs," Whitlow said.

Rich Payne says other non-traditional students are tackling their associates degrees through the region's new Higher Education Partnership.

"I think the most recent number, we had an open house last week, and we're right around 100 individuals that have actually enrolled in those courses," Payne said.

These experts agree, more training means more time for the economy, and the job front, to turn around. That gives Kim Leslie time to feel optimistic about her future.

"I didn't go to college after I got out of high school so, maybe this is a time to do something now that I didn't do then," she said.

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