Because the U.S. labor market remains stuck in slow-growth mode, the job training sector continues to enjoy a surge — not just for the legions of unemployed workers but also underemployed folks looking to make career changes that hold brighter long-term prospects. One major focal point of this trend: community colleges around the nation, which are struggling to keep pace with demand for job-training courses and expand training facilities. According to the Des Moines Register, nationwide community college enrollment has spiked 17 percent in the last year, a record high.
So what training courses are in highest demand right now? At the Des Moines Area Community College, the longest wait lists are for courses for medical and technical positions, with 100-deep wait lists and up to 18 months before students begin. Those who can't wait (or don't want to) can enroll in a private college that offers similar training classes. According to school officials, students are waiting “two years to enter DMACC's nursing program, or three years for dental hygiene. Other programs at DMACC, like automotive and welding, now must move into larger facilities. Three years ago, those programs struggled to fill their classrooms.”
Iowa isn't the only state seeing the training spike. In Rhode Island, where unemployment stands at 11.6 percent, training programs have recently become a top priority to provide the state's small business owners with skilled workers. Says state Senate President: President M. Teresa Paiva Weed: “Work-force development is a number-one priority… it makes no sense that we have unemployed individuals who are not qualified for the jobs that are available.”