What do you do when you’re 40 and suddenly unemployed and perhaps unemployable? What about when you’re 50 and realize you’re not happy in your job?

Although it’s tough to do, two people changed their lives and completely changed careers and ended up doing better than they ever imagined.

More than 9 million Americans are unemployed and thousands more got laid off this week. Getting a pink slip is a curve ball, that’s tough to catch. But if you don’t have the background or training that employers are looking for, you might find yourself out of work longer than you ever imagined.

“In a week to set it up?” says Don Slawinsky, Camcraft.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.

“At age 40, working my way up the ladder to a shop management type of position, the company closed and I found myself out of a job,” Slawinski says.

Not only was Don out of a job, he didn’t even have a high school degree.

“I didn’t want to drop back, so to speak. I wanted to maintain the living that we had and I knew I had to upgrade myself and my own skills,” Slawinski says.

Slawinski went back to school, starting with his GED and ending up with a Masters. He now directs training programs for Camcraft.

“I think you have to kind of pull yourself away from that wall and say there’s something else out there. I can do something else,” Slawinski says.

“It’s never too late. We always say to people, you’re going to get older anyway, so you might as well get older with education than get older without it,” says Pamela Tate, CAEL.

Tate works with companies to provide job counseling, job search support and retraining for employees who are laid off or are looking to make a change. If your employer doesn’t provide these benefits, there are free one-stop career centers that can help as well.

“They try to link interest that you have in jobs, skills you have, to see what jobs might be in the net of what you should be interested in,” Tate says.

And match up with training that ‘s available. But if you’re thinking about switching careers…

“I just decided I wanted to follow my passion and pursue something entirely different,” Connie Rivera, of City Escape Garden Center says.

You might have to retrain yourself. Rivera loved gardening as a child and after a career running non-profit associations, she decided to open a garden center.

“I followed this journey, interviewing landscape designers, landscape architects, even the CEO of Balseed, the largest seed producer in the area,” Rivera says.

She even went to work at a local flower shop to learn the business. Was it worth the effort?

“The positive response, the warm friendly people of course, the warm fuzzy plants, have all made it worthwhile. It’s just been the best thing I could have done for myself,” Rivera says.

The career experts we spoke with for the story say today’s job market requires workers to constantly update their skills and learn new ones to stay competitive.

For more information, go to www.careervision.org
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