Local News

N.C.'s unemployed take lay-off survival course

Posted September 18, 2009 1:01 p.m. EDT
Updated September 18, 2009 7:05 p.m. EDT

— Former salespeople, managers and a chief executive are attending a course at Wake Technical Community College to learn how to survive – and get out of – unemployment.

The "Ready to Work" program, which is also hosted by the United Way, teaches techniques for job hunting and researching career options.

"What we offer them is encouragement, support, education and information to get them through and help them create a sense of community and networking while they’re getting through this," said course founder Gayle Manley.

"It's a roller-coaster of emotions: anger, fear, frustration," described job seeker Christina Holley. "You don't understand why this is happening to me. What did I do? What's going on?"

Course participants also learn about resources such as unemployment benefits, health insurance assistance, community outreach, food banks and food-buying tips.

"They never thought they would need resources that they're calling on now," Manley said.

Robert Lee said that he is grateful to learn about those resources after being out of work for more than a year. The father of two was laid off from a job he held since graduating from college 19 years earlier.

"Anything that I can do, you know, for networking, tips on how to survive – with being out of work for that long, money is pretty tight," Lee said. "You look at everything."

Course participants said they're preparing to be unemployed for a while, despite official pronouncements of an economic turnaround.

"It's more talk than, from what I've seen, action," Holley said.

"I personally feel like we're going to be in this until at least 2010," Lee said.

Course organizers urged participants to keep their eyes on the ultimate goal: getting back into the ranks of the employed.

"These individuals are clearly ready to work," Manley said. "They are ready and bring skills to the table and can provide value to an employer."

Holley found some encouragement from the lessons about networking.

"I believe that everything that you put out there in the universe will reciprocate back to you, so if you keep on putting yourself out there, you're going to meet that right person who's going to connect with you and get you that next job," she said.

The "Ready to Work" program lasts for eight weeks and is free for the unemployed. Seminars are offered weekly, from 9 a.m. to noon on two Wake Tech campuses.

One series started Friday at the Western Wake Campus in Cary, and the next will start Oct. 2, at the Northern Wake Campus in north Raleigh.