Laid-off workers enroll in Penn State World Campus for new careers

Two men who worked at a manufacturing plant that closed in 2011 are retraining at Penn State with U.S. Department of Labor assistance programs

It might seem like Michael Braddock, 52, of Monaca, Pa., and Jeffrey Frye, 34, of East Palestine, Ohio, wouldn't have much in common, but both worked at the Beaver Falls plant of Armstrong World Industries, a ceiling tiles manufacturer, which closed in 2011. Now both are enrolled in Penn State's World Campus to prepare for new careers with help from U.S. Department of Labor programs for workers whose jobs have been impacted by foreign trade.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program covers two years of education expenses at post-secondary education institutions and universities, including Penn State, for qualified participants, as well as unemployment compensation through the federal Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) Program.

Braddock, who spent 32 years at the plant and was one of the last employees to leave, had been a warehouse technician. "It was emotionally stressful," said the married father of two daughters. "There are so many underlying factors when losing a job." Braddock previously earned an associate degree in criminal justice from a local community college and decided to pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice through Penn State's World Campus. When he graduates in 2013, he hopes to find work "in security management or investigation for the court system, the District Attorney's Office or another business."

Frye spent about five years at the plant "learning every job I could, because it seemed like a job that could take me through to retirement." He said, "The transition from working eight to 12 hours almost every day to sitting in front of my computer or a book was definitely not easy, but I know that it will be well worth it." Frye, the married father of two daughters, is enrolled online in the World Campus associate degree in information sciences and technology. When he graduates in 2014, he wants "to find a job in network security" and continue on for a bachelor's degree. Frye hopes to find work with an employer that will help support his education goal.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 80 of Penn State's most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.
 

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Last Updated December 04, 2012