Want to “Re-Skill” after a Layoff? Oregon Can Help.


The global pandemic has caused many to be laid off. But there are options available for Oregonians looking to re-skill and jump back into the workforce.

STATEWIDE – With Oregon experiencing very high numbers of layoffs across numerous industries, the state is working on many fronts to support individuals and businesses impacted by layoffs.  Closures and layoffs are an extreme hardship for thousands, but the impact is particularly high on Oregon’s lower-paying occupational groups and those with lower levels of educational attainment. Many Oregonians may be wondering how they can re-skill or gain new skills/credentials during this time.

If you are receiving or applying for unemployment benefits:

Individuals who are receiving unemployment benefits and want to be able to pursue education or attend training at the same time, such as a GED, high school diploma, certificate, or college degree, should first check with the Unemployment Insurance Special Programs Unit to discuss how educational training impacts unemployment benefits. In addition, they are advised to contact their WorkSource Oregon center to research what they want to receive training for and ask for assistance.

If you are not receiving or applying for unemployment benefits:

Individuals who are not on unemployment benefits may also contact their WorkSource Oregon office to research what they want to receive training for and ask for assistance. They can also explore postsecondary education opportunities on the Plan and Pay for College section of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission website, including the Career and Training Resources page, Pay for College page, and Student and Family Resources page.  

Prior to selecting a college, university or training program, there are many resources to plan and explore career pathways and assess labor market expectations.  The WorkSource Oregon center can help with this. In addition, Oregon colleges, universities, and postsecondary programs assist students with career planning, internships, and more through their career centers and student services. 

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) is the office that administers state financial aid, such as the Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon’s largest need-based grant program, for the benefit of college-going Oregonians.  Explore financial aid opportunities administered by OSAC at www.oregonstudentaid.gov.

Support for Oregon Workers and Businesses Takes Many Forms

In addition to the resources above, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) Office of Workforce Investments (OWI), with agency and community partners, has undertaken extensive work to mitigate challenges for workers and employers impacted by COVID-19.  

The OWI, directed by Karen Humelbaugh, works with the Oregon Employment Department, partner agencies, and community-based organizations to coordinate Rapid Response services supporting affected workers and businesses during reported layoffs. Recently, this team has increased bilingual videos and communications on topics important to workers experiencing layoffs: unemployment insurance, health insurance, and WorkSource Oregon resources.

The OWI has also recently supported businesses and Oregon’s nine Local Workforce Development Boards in their service by securing $6M in new federal grant dollars to support dislocated workers, keeping local boards and workforce partners informed of opportunities, distributing $1.1 million in layoff aversion funds to help businesses stay open or minimize the length of time employees are out of work, and more.

The agency recently received two three million dollar federal grants from the U.S. Department of Labor for Disaster and Employment Recovery to support temporary jobs and training for dislocated workers affected by the pandemic.  In addition, OWI will be working in collaboration with the Oregon Business Council (OBC) and ECONorthwest to update the 2020 Oregon Talent Assessment, to address the outlook for dislocated workers from industries affected by the pandemic – identifying the current skill/education gap will be important to aiding in statewide economic recovery and could inform Oregonians on the ways they could reskill to meet pressing need.   

Karen Humelbaugh, says, “We are in unprecedented times of uncertainty and change and our shared Workforce System is responding at record pace to ensure that our neighbors are taken care of with food assistance, income supports, small business assistance, job search and placement, training and so much more.  We will continue to enter into these endeavors with customer centered, innovative and value added approaches that help each person and business thrive.”

About Author

Endi Hartigan is the Communications Director for the State of Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). The HECC envisions a future in which all Oregonians—and especially those whom our systems have underserved and marginalized—benefit from the transformational power of high-quality postsecondary education and training.

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