According to the Contra Costa times, enrollment in vocational training programs such as Medical Assistant is soaring. Here is an excerpt from the article:
Sharae Gandy and Donna Gutierrez are victims of the depressed housing market who are turning their misfortunes into new opportunities. More than a year ago, both women enjoyed well-paying positions in financial institutions that specialized in home loans. When the economy soured, they were laid off. “My job was outsourced to Texas,” said Gandy, 39, who lives in El Sobrante and was let go from her job as a loan-closing specialist during downsizing at Wachovia in 2007. “I felt down because I had worked for the company for seven years. I loved the place. If that hadn’t happened, I’d probably still be there.” Gutierrez, a 61-year-old Danville resident, was an executive assistant at E-Loan in Pleasanton. “I was one of 500 people let go at E-Loan,” said Gutierrez, who earned $55,000. “I looked for a year and six months and couldn’t find anything comparable.”
After some soul-searching, both women — along with many other people laid off in the past two years — enrolled in a clinical medical assistant class in the Mt. Diablo school district’s adult education program. Now they are excited about starting careers in a field that is growing, while other businesses are shrinking. “I will start out making $18 an hour, so it will be a considerable cut,” Gutierrez said, after another student practiced checking her ears during the hands-on class. “But, toward the end of my career, I really am looking forward to personal satisfaction.”
Leslie Rodriguez, a 30-year-old Brentwood resident, completed the medical assistant program in 2007 after losing her job managing an auto repair shop in Antioch. She was hired as a medical assistant pediatric adviser in a Pleasant Hill doctor’s office, where she worked as an extern through the adult education program. “I’m so glad to have gotten into this field,” Rodriguez said. “I feel pretty comfortable and stable in it. I don’t feel like I’m going to come in tomorrow and lose my job. There’s something new every day.”
With the state cutting college and university funds, adult education offers a cheap and flexible alternative for people who want to take classes, but who also want to get into college immediately. Rodriguez and some medical assistant students said they ultimately intend to pursue nursing degrees, but they wanted to get their feet wet by starting off in jobs more entry level in nature.
Several students in the program’s medical and dental assistant classes said they saw their job losses as blessings in disguise, which have led them to new careers where they will thrive. “Not being able to work, this has kind have given me an opportunity,” Gutierrez said. “If I’m not going to be able to make big money, I might as well be doing something I’m loving.”