Recession sees rise in adult learners, educators say
More laid-off workers hitting the books
As Albertans still bear the brunt of the recent economic downturn, with provincial unemployment rates at 7.1 per cent as announced by StatsCan last week, Drumheller further education facilities have noticed an uptake of laid off and unemployed workers interested in revisiting education.
Campus Alberta and Drumheller Outreach staff have both identified an increase in adult learners looking to finish their high school diploma or complete a GED.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in students who come in for that purpose,” said Jenn Paulger at Drumheller Outreach, which offers high school education. “Over the winter there has definitely been an increase in workers seeing what their options are and what they need to look for in order to get extra courses or upgrading.”
Campus Alberta’s Dana Davidson said she’s increased class sizes in order to accom- modate the influx of students, even having to put some on waitlist.
“A lot of the new students have been let go or notice they’ve had more trouble finding a job because there’s more competition now,” said Davidson. “Say someone working in the oilpatch is let go, they are more experienced and qualified than others that would usually fill those jobs.”
“It’s a vicious cycle. People come in inquiring about postsecondary or further education and I can see they want to go through with it but are hesitant because it requires spending money. Now is the time to focus on improving yourself but you’re strapped for money. Before, you had the money to do it but were too busy working,” said Davidson, adding that government student loans are available and at low interest rates and do not need to be paid until after education is finished.
But both Paulger and Davidson say economic downturns and subsequent layoffs offer an opportunity to improve yourself while unemployed.
“Education is never a waste, it’s always an investment and, you know, it kind of forces you into thinking ‘what do I really want to do if this is the time I want to do it,’ and decide what path you want to go on,” said Davidson.
“Sometimes you end up in a job but its not something you really want to do. It’s a good time to sit down and do some soul searching to find what new paths you want to take.”
“Jobs are changing all the time,” says Paulger at Drumheller Outreach, which will be offering a one month summer school in July for those looking to do some upgrading. “If you find you’re skillsets or desires are elsewhere, it can help students figure out what prerequisites are needed for different post-secondary programs and go from there.”
Drumheller Outreach and Campus Alberta educators have noticed a rise in laid off workers and adults inquiring into further education options due to the economic recession in Alberta.