Tech Savvy for April 16, 2009

Using hard times to your advantage

by Dan Harper

    Life has its ups and downs, and what began as a dream job can hit a dead end.  For the past 50+ years, if you had a job in the oil and gas industry you were sitting pretty.  Long hours and hard work meant decent pay and a job for life.  Good as these jobs were, they weren′t immune to changes in our culture and economics. Times change,  jobs disappear, and we must adapt.  There is help available, and that′s what we′re discussing in this week′s Tech Savvy.

    State and federal governments have been working hard to come up with solutions… and one is to retrain.  A person who has lost their job has little money for training, but may have the time. Colorado Workforce and its partners can help.  In cooperation with several learning centers, your Colorado Workforce center and Rocky Mountain SER can help train you and get you qualified for your next career.  Call (719) 846-9221 to find out what resources are available to you.

    Industry has also stepped up to the plate.  Architects and engineers who

use Autodesk software and have lost their job are eligible to use academic versions of Autocad and other software titles ($4000-$10,000 programs) on a limited time basis for free, as well as receive steep discounts on training and certification. Solidworks has offered a similar package of their expensive industry standard 3D modeling software.

    Microsoft has publicized a similar project, called “Elevate America” helping up to two million people get computer and software certifications.  For right now it does little beyond their normal purchase, training, and certification programs for the average Joe in Colorado, but they are expanding this to more states.

    Ironically, Microsoft instituted this program just prior to their own layoffs and administered the pilot program through their home state of Washington′s unemployment office.  Considering they also want to use stimulus money from the federal government to offset some of the cost to build a bridge to connect two of their campuses bisected by a highway, it looks more self serving than philanthropic.

    There are other companies willing to help, and a Google search will yield all kinds of leads.  Perhaps this is also a good time to download and learn about free open source software.  Have a look at www.fosswin.com and download all you want.

    Upgrading your skill set by learning to use software and other tools will keep you from going nuts while unemployed.  If you consider the hidden blessings of this economic downturn and use this time wisely, the additional skills may qualify you for a job that′s much better than the one you lost.

    Colorado Workforce′s website is www.coworkforce.com. 

To register or check for jobs, go to www.connectingcolorado.com.  Solidworks′ assistance web site is www.solidworks.com/sw/engineering_stimulus_package.html

Autodesk′s assistance program website is students7.autodesk.com/?nd=assistance_home&lbon=1

Microsoft′s Elevate America website can be found at  www.microsoft.com/About/CorporateCitizenship/US/CommunityInvestment/ElevateAmerica.aspx