Pandemic pushing Texans to contemplate changing professions
TEXAS – The country’s unemployment rate has fallen significantly since the height of the pandemic, but the Texas unemployment rate is still nearly double the original figure before the state’s closure in 2020. Job and financial security have left many out of work . and underemployed Texans rethink their jobs.
Kellen Dean is passionate about making music. He’s half of the R&B duo, Wave stem, under the stage name ‘Kee’.
Even though the duo’s beats have slowly started on the scene, which is what they make of the music, Dean is certainly not going to allow Dean to quit his day job. The 23-year-old has had several jobs since high school to fund his music businesses.
“I’ve worked in many such hardware stores, restaurants and similar family businesses,” Dean recalls.
But like many, the pandemic gave Dean a lot of time to think about his future, especially his financial future.
“I really think the pandemic opened my mind a little bit to that, everything could change at any moment,” Dean said.
So he eventually took the advice of a friend and enrolled in a four-week certificate program to become a plumber’s apprentice at Skillpoint Alliance in Austin.
“We are a workforce development organization that provides in-demand training to individuals who are unemployed, unemployed or looking for a career switch,” said Kevin Brackmeyer, Executive Director of Skillpoint Alliance.
While enrollment took a dip when Skillpoint’s trading skill classes went virtual last year, Brackmeyer says it’s clear the pandemic is prompting many people to reevaluate their career path.
“I would say that we have almost doubled the number of students enrolled compared to 2019 and 2020,” said Brackmeyer.
According to an Pew Research StudyAlmost two-thirds of Americans unemployed in the pandemic have considered changing careers. One-third of respondents said they have already taken the steps to change jobs, re-enroll in school, or skills training such as those offered at Skillpoint.
“When students enroll in our programs, our mission is to guide them through the program and the ultimate goal is to get them to work,” said Brackmeyer.
While Dean hopes plumbing will provide him with more financial stability in the here and now, the musician and songwriter doesn’t see that as his end game. Dean said he wanted to be a creator. He wants to make things, be it music, words on a page, even architecture. He sees this career change as a career change in the future.
“I feel like I can use what I do with plumbing to go back to school, to make more music and better music,” Dean said. “And so I think that can just change my life.”