Local News

Laid-Off Workers In Wilson Head Back To Classroom

Posted September 22, 2003

— The sluggish economy and layoffs in North Carolina has many older workers starting from scratch. Many empty factories are filling classrooms with new students.

At age 53, Frank Daniels is heading back to class. He is studying to be an electrician at Wilson Tech Community College.

"I hope it will give me a skill, better skills, so I can find a job that pays a decent wage," he said.

Daniels left the custodial business a few months ago, because it was not paying enough to get by anymore. He found himself competing with hundreds of laid-off workers for only a few jobs.

"It's really hard and you know if you're not qualified. You're like the last one they will consider," he said.

Daniels has plenty of company. Enrollment is up 16 percent at Wilson Technical Community College this semester and administrators say it is mostly older adults who have spent years in the work force, but now feel their best shot at keeping food on the table is to learn a whole new trade.

"People see the economy. They see the layoffs whether it's affected them directly or not. They want to be prepared for what could happen to them," student Tish Scott said.

Administarors say an additional 300 students filled up classes so quickly that they had to add extra math and computer courses. Officials at Wilson Technical Community College expects enrollment to continue to rise over the coming months.

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