SCHOOL’S IN: Don’t be afraid

Jane Muskens talks about adults heading back to college for upgraded skills

A friend of mine is turning 50 years old this week and is facing a career/job crisis.

After long-term employment up to about the age of 46, this person has been either employed short-term or unemployed for the last four years. He worked in an industry where changes in consumer demand and technology led to the elimination of his job.

With limited education, yet having years of experience, my friend sought work in the local service sector. Over time, he found that most jobs tended to be low paying and short-term.

Today, he is tired of working for just above minimum wage and, along with facing a financial crisis, he is likely now starting to wrestle with issues of self-worth.

I’ve tried to convince him that now is the time to consider going back to school. He would probably qualify for some retraining and should pursue this opportunity.

He refuses to consider this an option. As far as he is concerned, going back to school isn’t for him and he just isn’t going to do it.

He keeps thinking that a job will come up, even though he doesn’t even have the skills or education to apply for many of the jobs out there. On top of this, he has an inflated expectation of what he should be paid, which makes it even more difficult for him to find employment.

He has years of experience that would serve him well in the workforce.

He has an excellent work ethic and would be an asset to any company if he had the skills and abilities they require. In this person’s case, that would require some upgrading in addition to some computer training.

Many people are scared to go back to school after a certain age and will often stubbornly dig in their heels when the idea is suggested. What they don’t realize is that older adults have been going back to school for years.

How many times have we read articles about senior citizens graduating from college or university?

During recent convocation ceremonies, I noticed many significantly older adults (50 plus – both female and male) receiving certificates from Okanagan College.

These certificates ranged from office administration to health care assistant. Many of these credentials are applied and prepare students to transition right into employment.

If you are fearful of going back to school or you know of someone who is in the same boat as my friend, ask them what is really stopping them from going back to school. Right now my friend has yet to give me a believable answer.

Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College. Comments can be forwarded to


Vernon Morning Star

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