Education and Training

Depending on your individual situation, education and training may help prepare you to connect to employment.

educationandtraining250.jpgFor many older, long-term unemployed job seekers anxious to return to work, a long-term training program may not make sense. However, in some cases, updating an existing skill or acquiring a current credential may help employers see you as relevant and up-to-date.

Employers often have the perception that older job seekers are lacking in computer, technology and social media skills.  These skills are a critical component of many jobs, as well as vital for the job search process itself, since many applications are only available online. If you are lacking basic computer skills, you will likely want to address this gap, and there are many low and no-cost ways to do so.  For example, most of New Jersey’s public libraries offer free classes in computer basics that can get you started.

For a brief overview of education and training resources in New Jersey, please see below.
Community Colleges
New Jersey’s community colleges offer a wide range of associate degree and workforce training programs. 
The NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development is currently running a program called Ready to Work  that is geared specifically to long-term unemployed job seekers, providing access to counseling and education and training support for those who qualify.

Several New Jersey community colleges were part of the American Association of Community College’s Plus 50 Initiative, with programs designed specifically for older learners. Although the Plus 50 Initiative has technically ended, the following Community Colleges decided to continue their own programs:
Prior Learning Assessment Network
For older job seekers, going back to school does not mean attending a four-year institution and getting a degree. If you started a degree in the past but never finished, however, there are some programs that may help you return to school or accelerate progress toward degree completion. For example, the New Jersey Prior Learning Assessment Network is a consortium of postsecondary schools that determine if some of your work or military experience can be translated into college credits. (NJPLAN is based at Thomas Edison State University, an adult-centered college in Trenton.)
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development provides information about education and training for job seekers on several different websites: 
  • The New Jersey Training Opportunities (NJ TOPPS) website can help you find specific training programs and providers based on industries or occupations you are interested in, with options to filter your search in different ways, including only looking for training programs tied to occupations that are deemed “in demand” by the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
  • New Jersey Career Connections is the state of New Jersey’s official website for job seekers, which provides information on education, training, and job search resources available through local One-Stop Career Centers, Jersey Job Clubs, and Talent Networks.
  • Free Online Courses:  Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer online courses.  There is a fee if you would like a verified certificate of completion.  Another online open source platform is  edX.  Similarly, it’s free unless you want a certificate of completion.
  • GCF LearnFreeLearn basic computer skills, how to use email, Windows, Microsoft Office and more. has tutorials, lessons, videos, and interactives, all for free!
  • This article presents a list of 25 websites that offer free online education.
You may be eligible for grants and tuition waiver programs to help you pursue education or training.

New Jersey Career Connections provides information on various Financial Aid and Training Grants, such as:
  • Trade Assistance Act: If you became unemployed due to your job or department being transferred overseas, then you may be eligible for reemployment and training services under the Trade Assistance Act.
  • Workforce Development Partnership Act (WDP): If you are a displaced or dislocated worker, then you may be eligible for a grant up to $4,000 for training.
  • Workforce Investment Act (WIA): The Workforce Investment Act allows dislocated or disadvantaged workers up to $4,000 for training programs.
  • Tuition Waiver for the Unemployed and for Seniors: The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, in cooperation with the Commission for Higher Education, allows for tuition waivers for eligible job seekers who are unemployed or age 65 and over who wish to attend classes at New Jersey public colleges or universities. Several criteria must be met to qualify. If courses have vacant seats, then eligible job seekers can fill those seats free of charge.
Some other options to help fund your education are Pell Grants and Federal Loans. You can visit your local One-Stop Career Center to learn more about these grants and how to get started with utilizing them.
There is limited evidence to show which training programs are effective, and which are not.  NJ TOPPS allows those who have already completed programs to leave comments about their experiences and whether they were successful in finding a job. You should always be cautious when reviewing program outcomes, as some programs provide placement results that are inaccurate or misleading. The best way to determine whether or not a training program would be a good investment is to look carefully at your own personal factors, including your work and education history, whether you’re trying to transition to a new field, and what evidence exists about hiring prospects and credentials in demand by employers.