Job training a valuable tool for managing uncertain job market

Gears of knowledge, image by EtiAmmos

OPINION – The recent fluctuations in California’s job market have led to concerns among residents about near-term job prospects and long-term careers. While the state’s economy had been experiencing positive growth for 14 consecutive months until December 2022, the start of 2023 brought about job cuts in the tech industry, leading to cross-industry cutbacks, layoffs, and rescinded job offers. This has resulted in an increase in unemployment rates, with the most recent monthly rate in California at 4.5%, up from 4.1% in January. Although these circumstances may cause anxiety, it is important to recognize that job market gyrations are not uncommon.

To mitigate the impact of an uncertain job market, education and job training are valuable tools. Acquiring job skills equips individuals with the knowledge, competencies, and qualifications sought by employers, enhancing their employability and opening up opportunities in California’s diverse economy.

Public policy in California can play a vital role. Initiatives like the Golden State Education and Training Grant Program (GSETG), which provides grants to adult learners, have already benefited thousands of Californians. However, funds were not allocated to the program in the most recent state budget but could be reintroduced in future years. Ongoing efforts and strategies are required by state policymakers to further broaden access to higher education, particularly for the under- and unemployed working-age population. Redirecting resources and funds to address these individuals’ needs and educational goals is imperative.

Job seekers also play a crucial role in their own professional development by actively seeking opportunities to acquire and enhance their skills, thereby increasing their competitiveness in the job market. With that in mind, here are three proactive steps that Californians can take to enhance their near and long-term prospects:

Pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree: An MBA offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to enhance skills and advance careers in various business sectors. Programs like the one offered by Pepperdine Graziadio Business School equip students with expertise in finance, marketing, operations, and leadership. Through an MBA, individuals develop critical skills in problem-solving, strategic thinking, decision-making, and effective communication. Furthermore, MBA students gain immediate access to a vast alumni network, providing valuable connections and resources.

Obtain relevant certifications: Certifications are valuable credentials that validate specialized knowledge and expertise in specific fields. Pursuing certifications allows individuals to stay updated with industry trends, demonstrate proficiency, and enhance their marketability. Certifications often involve comprehensive training programs and examinations that focus on specific areas of expertise, enabling individuals to expand their skill set, showcase their commitment to professional development, and potentially earn higher wages. For example, Grow with Google certifications in areas like project management and IT support can lead to high-paying jobs.

Explore apprenticeship opportunities: Apprenticeships offer hands-on training experiences under the guidance of experienced professionals. By participating in apprenticeship programs, individuals gain practical industry experience, refine their skills through real-world applications, and develop a deep understanding of their chosen field. This experiential learning opportunity allows apprentices to acquire both technical and soft skills while building a professional network, increasing their chances of securing employment and advancing their careers. California’s Department of Industrial Relations maintains a searchable database of apprenticeship programs available statewide.

As the economy transitions into its next phase, career stability is achievable. Even areas often associated with job displacements, such as automation and artificial intelligence, can offer long-term career opportunities and upward mobility. The acquisition of job skills significantly enhances employability and adaptability in a dynamic job market. A highly skilled workforce in California is poised to secure employment and embark on fulfilling career paths. With the right skills in place, there is nothing to prevent another flourishing job market.

David M. Smith, PhD is a Professor of Economics at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School


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