Originally published January 4, 2022
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A record number of American workers have joined the “Great Resignation”.
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According to the latest job report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November. Many of them work in the hospitality or health sector. In the same month, 6.7 million people were employed.
So where are the workers going? WCCO’s Jeff Wagner learned that remaining unemployed is rarely the end goal.
After several years in the restaurant business, Colette Graack left her jobs in the cooking line in June 2021 in exchange for a deeper role as a mother.
“I just could not cope with that pressure as my son needed me more,” Graack said.
Her son has autism and needs constant care, a job she will soon take as she trains to be his personal care assistant. Graack said it was hard to take the plunge.
“Especially financially, because I am a single mother. Fortunately, I had a savings at the time that we could leave with, ”she said.
Her concerns are likely shared by many Americans who recently left the workforce. Despite millions resigning, millions found new jobs. So where are they going? Often it is a different industry combined.
“This notion that if you leave an industry, going to a new one requires, you know, a degree or a lot of education, that may not be the case,” said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “The reality today is that whether it’s the state, whether it’s a college, whether it’s your future employer, there’s a wealth of support and free training available to make that shift.”
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It happens at Anoka Ramsey Community College, where the state pays for students to become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA). The tuition, the books, the scrubs and the certification exam are free.
“Oh, that means a lot!” said a student named Tracy. “No money out of my pocket.”
She already works in healthcare, but would like to further develop her skills as the industry struggles to find labor. Others in the class ranged from those with culinary to carpentry backgrounds.
“I just see a huge demand for more nursing assistants in nursing homes, in hospitals,” she said. “I can see myself doing this part-time and helping when needed.”
The “Great Resignation” also consists of workers retiring early. Experts say it creates opportunities for others to leave low-wage jobs or hard hours to climb the ladder faster than expected.
“There are jobs in manufacturing, jobs in construction, jobs in healthcare that have a huge career potential, a lot of growth opportunities and opportunities to earn a much higher salary than you might have done before COVID,” Grove said.
The two industries that are seeing the biggest gains in Minnesota are manufacturing and construction. Grove said workplace training is a big reason for that.
Despite initially being concerned about leaving the restaurant business, Graack has not regretted her career change. This has led to less stress and more time with her son.
“It’s like getting to know him again,” she said.
To learn more about the CNA education program that the State of Minnesota funds for students, click here here.
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