A surprise for Americans switching careers: They need to go back to school

November 8, 2021

Rapid change in work means a need for more training, even in jobs that didn’t previously require it

BRUNSWICK, Maine — As the silkscreen printing company where she’d worked for five years became more and more short-staffed, Vanessa Moody found herself putting in 60 hours a week, starting at 6 a.m. on weekdays and including Saturdays.

This story also appeared in Maine Public Radio and National Public Radio

That left the single mother little time to spend with her 7-year-old son, whose grandparents watched him while she worked.

“We only had Saturday night to hang out and Sunday to do things,” said Moody, who is 32. “And he’d to say to me, ‘Why is your boss so mean?’ ”

The last straw was when Moody asked for a $2 raise above the $18.50 an hour she was making and the boss said no. So she joined the legions of Americans quitting their jobs.

That’s when Moody realized something else she shares with many of those other workers who want to switch careers: She’d need more education to get a new one.

Moody was recounting her story at a noisy training center where she was in her third day of a three-week, 120-hour Southern Maine Community College course in welding, plasma-cutting, grinding, blueprint-reading and technical math. Her goal: to land an interview for a job at the General Dynamics-owned Bath Iron Works. Pay at the shipyard typically starts at around $22 an hour before overtime, often rising to more than $27 an hour after six months, with generous benefits including paid time off and pensions. more»