BY MITCHELL ROSEN
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST
It's humbling starting a second career in your 40s, 50s or 60s, yet more and more this is the reality of looking for employment in 2012.
I speak with individuals who were trained to be realtors and are now keeping books. Licensed electricians who have gone back to be certified in roofing, concrete or another specialty they believe will be more in demand. Nurses who are cross-training in phlebotomy -- and the list goes on.
Very educated professionals find themselves seeking out a niche in their field that has need: general practitioners going back for another residency or lawyers switching from family law to taxes, journalists becoming proofreaders -- no profession seems immune from the devastation of this recession.
In my profession, some have left the field altogether to become teachers or professors only to find these jobs becoming scarce. I wish I could tell my "20-something" children, which jobs are the most secure, yet each time I open the newspaper or scan a home page on the Internet, there is a new list of "most in-demand jobs."
I'd love to be able to look a young person in the eye and say, "This profession, it's bomb-proof. Our nation is going to be needing X for the next three decades at least. Can't go wrong." For those who poured their life savings into buying a 60-Minute Photo and could not see the advent of digital photography, or families who scrimped and put everything they had into buying a big rig and now face $5-a-gallon gasoline -- these individuals know the confusion and fear.
I was raised to believe you go to high school, then either learn a trade or get a degree that leads to a job. Once you've secured that employment, it's the same job until retirement. The rules have changed. Few jobs seems secure and the ones that are have retirees in competition with new graduates for positions. No one wants to live at home with mom and dad in their middle age, yet more families are leaving their pride at the door as they move back into the home where they were raised.
I hear a lot about "this is how people live in other parts of the world," where several generations under one roof is the rule, not the exception. Several incomes are pooled to pay one mortgage, electric and water bill. I'm not an economist, but as a family counselor I am witnessing a reconfiguration of the American family. I have never seen so many grown men and women moving back in with the families they left in their 20s.
Yet there is a positive that seems to be emerging. Petty squabbles, reluctance to help with common chores; these are luxuries that seem silly to families who are struggling. Being humbled does have a plus when we are forced to reexamine what matters and redefine which values are important.
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