Thinking of a new career or a better job but unsure of whether you have the skills to shift gears?
State agencies and many educational institutions and employers in Barnstable and Plymouth counties offer training, often paid, to help job seekers seeking career advancement or a better paying job.
“It takes a lot of courage and strength to join the workforce, take on a new job, new career, new position or start your own business,” says Marc L. Goldberg, a Certified Mentor with SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives) Cape and the Islands. “Work/life balance has taken a greater role in the decisions surrounding careers. When you look at it like any other problem-solving challenge, it becomes manageable.”
According to the Cape Cod Commission (source: Data Cape Cod), Barnstable County occupations are centered, in large part, in tourism-related industries, many of which undergo seasonal fluctuations between a summer peak and winter off-season. As a result, median annual wages are commonly lower than state median wages for the same occupation, though the gap between wages in the two geographies varies among occupations. Cape Cod has an added challenge to attract employers: the high cost of housing. Often, workers commute to Cape Cod jobs from Plymouth County where housing costs are less.
While jobs in the hospitality industry are always in demand in tourism-based economies like Cape Cod, other job sectors are seeing a lot of vacancies.
Top jobs that Goldberg is seeing are data, cloud and site reliability engineering in the IT world, and mental health nurses and therapists in healthcare and solar consultant and field construction supervision.
Clifford Robbins, Senior Business Advisor with the Southeast Regional Office of Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network adds to the list HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractors, electricians and plumbers.
“We are in the era of ‘The Great Resignation,’ says Robbins, referring to the mass resignation of hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide following the COVID 19 pandemic that began in 2020. “It’s so hard to get people. All my mid-size clients are crying for help.”
The Baker-Polito Administration awarded more than $10 million in grants last year to state technical high schools through its Career Technical Initiative program to expand training opportunities for young people and adults to address skills gaps so more residents can pursue careers in growing industries and employers can hire qualified workers to grow their businesses.
The Commonwealth’s MassHire Career Centers (there are 16 in the Commonwealth) offer employment, training services and grants for job seekers. Currently, MassHire Cape Cod and Islands Career Center will pay up to $15,000 to train eligible candidates for a skill in demand on Cape Cod. The application can be found here. These federal grants are made possible through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (2014).
The skills training needed in the region is derived from labor market data and primary businesses. The most in demand fields on the Cape and Islands are healthcare (training available for phlebotomists, medical assistants, medical coders and billing, diagnostic technicians and LPNs; construction (HVAC, plumbers, electricians and truck drivers); and hospitality (culinary training). The training is conducted through a number of partners, depending on the training, including the Cape’s two technical high schools, Cape Cod Community College and private training companies. Training can be in person, online or a hybrid and the grant pays for books, if needed, fees and any tests required for certifications.
“Most of these training require a high school diploma, but if they don’t have one, we can help them achieve that as well, for no cost,” says Neila Neary, MassHire Cape Cod and Islands Career Center director.
In addition, the Career Center can assist employees who are seeking certifications or additional training in their current job, she adds.
Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Bourne offers 17 career and technical programs in its continuing education program, leading to licensure or industry standard certification. A new program this fall is Drinking Water Operator Certification (much needed on the Cape). Approximately 1,000 students enroll each year from Cape Cod, Southeastern Massachusetts, the Plymouth and Fall River areas, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, said Mary Burke, Director of Adult and Continuing Education.
“We also were awarded a two-year Career Technical Initiatives grant beginning this fall for 10 students (per year) in Automotive,” said Burke. “We still have available seats in this program.”
The Community School at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich provides training and certification for needed vocational professions on Cape Cod.
“Many of the certifications provide students immediate access to their professions after successful completion of the program and subsequently passing the national or state exams,” explains Carol Connolly, Director of Adult Education. “As these programs are offered during the evening hours, students can also continue to work to provide for themselves and their families.”
Program starting this fall include: Contractor’s Licensing, Dental Assistant Program; Electrical Code and Theory-Level 1, Electrical Code and Theory-Master Electrician, Manicure Licensing, Medical Assistant Certificate, Veterinary Assistant Approved Program and Cosmetology (winter registration), HVAC Foundational Skills and Landscape Maintenance (winter).
For unemployed or underemployed individuals, the Community School has state-funded grants at no cost to qualified applicants.
“If individuals need English language support for school or work, we also offer ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Level 1 and Level 2,” Connolly adds. “We by no means cover all the needed professions on Cape Cod and are actively looking for qualified and enthusiastic instructors in other fields.”
Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) currently has 500 job openings, but Cape’s largest employer is optimistic that its training programs and career advancement opportunities will fill the void and attract job seekers.
“Our turnover rates are now under 10 percent, which is remarkable in the industry,” says Michelle Skarbek, Vice President of Human Resources at Cape Cod Healthcare. ““As we say at Cape Cod Healthcare, ‘It’s not just a job, it’s a career.’ And currently, we have many year-round, full-time and part-time positions that offer career development.”
A relatively new program designed to attract nurses is CCHC’s paid, on-the-job training programs for Certified Nursing Assistants and Registered Nurses. Twelve new CNAs recently participated in the program and passed the required CNA exam and are now employed at CCHC’s two hospitals (Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital).
Kristin Tavares enrolled in the Cape Cod Hospital Registered Nursing residency program for new college graduates in 2018.
“Proper precepting (training) time in the hospital is crucial to a new graduate’s success, and most hospitals’ training times vary, which is why this program was so attractive to me,” said Tavares, who was interviewed by Cape Cod Health News.
Since completing the residency program, the 26-year-old has worked in various roles at Cape Cod Healthcare, including as medical-surgical nurse on the Mugar wing at Cape Cod Hospital and as an RN and training young nurses in the emergency department at Cape Cod Hospital. The more she taught novice nurses, the more she realized her true calling. Today, Tavares is the Off-Shift Clinical Educator at Falmouth Hospital.
CCHC is developing a new training program for respiratory therapists based on the success of the CNA and RN training programs. The organization also partners with some off-Cape community colleges for programs not offered by Cape Cod Community College.
Cape Cod Healthcare also works with the Cape’s two technical high schools and posts a “Job of The Week” on Instagram.
Plymouth’s largest hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess, has 317 job openings, including nursing and non-medical positions, some with sign-on bonuses and training.
The airline industry is suffering an “acute nationwide shortage of pilots,” due to Congressional legislation passed in 2010 that in most cases requires new-hire first officers, also known as co-pilots, to have logged at least 1,500 flight hours before getting their first airline job – the same requirement as for captains.
“Historically, serving as a first officer was an apprenticeship of sorts, building flying experience in a structured professional environment toward becoming a qualified captain,” explains Andrew Bonney, Senior Vice President of Planning for Cape Air.
Individuals who today can meet the new hours requirements to become a new-hire first officer are highly in demand, says Bonney, adding that (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Highest Paying Jobs), an airline pilot is the second-highest paying job in the U.S. (a doctor is number one). “And it doesn’t require a college degree.”
Flying an aircraft does require extensive training, however, and Cape Air has nationally-recognized, quality training programs for aspiring pilots at its Hyannis headquarters, Cape Cod Gateway Airport, including flight simulator training.
Cape Air also has training partnerships with JetBlue, LIFT Academy of Indianapolis, Indiana and Cape Cod Community College (4Cs), the latter of which offers an aviation maintenance technician training program run out of Plymouth Municipal Airport. Graduates of the 4Cs program become FAA-certificated Airframe and/or Powerplant Mechanics upon graduation from that program. Cape Air donated aircraft to the 4Cs program.
Cape Air has training partnerships with Jet Blue, Lift Academy and Cape Cod Community College (4 Cs), the latter which offers an aviation maintenance training program run out of Plymouth Municipal Airport. Graduates of the 4 Cs program receive an A&P Maintenance Certificate upon graduation from that program. Cape Air donated several aircraft to the program.
Where To Begin
SCORE’s Goldberg says to begin a job search with some self-examination. What are your goals for a job or career change?
“Once you’ve determined your goals and researched jobs that might interest you and fit your skillset, evaluate the roles and responsibilities of the positions that are available,” he advises. “Do they provide growth opportunities and is that why you are seeking a new role?”
Goldberg says if you’re still not sure which direction you might like to take, network to find out what is available and where the demand is that can use your skills and interests.
“Your network can be your next lead into landing your next job or changing careers. Attend networking events in your local community or branch out to a nearby city,” he says.
Read more of Goldberg’s tips in the Mentoring column in our August issue.
The rise of technology and the prevalence of online job applications have revolutionized how resumes are created, presented and received. Melissa Pond, of Melissa Pond LLC, says digital resumes are the norm, typically submitted through online application systems or emailed directly to employers in PDF formats.
Today’s resumes can vary in length, depending on the individual’s experience and career history. The focus has shifted from listing every job duty to highlight key achievements and quantifiable results. In addition, job seekers often include testimonials, recommendations, or endorsements from colleagues, supervisors, or clients on their resumes or LinkedIn profiles. These serve as social proof and can bolster a candidate’s credibility and qualifications.
“Many companies also use Keyword Optimization for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
to screen resumes before human eyes see them,” she adds. “It’s essential to incorporate relevant keywords from the job description to ensure your resume gets noticed. This can significantly impact whether your resume makes it through the initial screening process.”
Pond also notes that employers are now more open to understanding career breaks and valuing soft skills such as adaptability, communication and problem-solving.
“Embrace digital tools, optimize your online presence, and tailor your resume to suit each application,” she advises. “Demonstrating your ability to adapt to the current job market can positively influence potential employers and increase your chances of securing interviews and job offers.”
Melissa J Pond LLC, currently offers a $150 package that includes a resume makeover, LinkedIn content, and one cover letter customized to a job description.