‘Resigners’ take to short, online training programs


Individuals who recently resigned from their jobs and don’t plan to return to the workforce for a few months aren’t just sitting around: A good proportion of them are taking short-term online courses to prepare for their next career move.

A new report from Cengage that surveyed individuals who recently left their jobs or plan to do so shows that nearly four out of five (78%) of recent “resigners” have taken online training courses or certificate programs. For almost two-thirds of them, the reason was that it was essential to landing a new job.

“The courses the resigners have opted into are largely short-term programs — 72% are six months long or shorter, with only 15% lasting longer,” the report says. “There is clearly demand and need for shorter time-to-credential opportunities that get employees learning new skills and back into the workforce quickly.”

Of resigners who had taken or were enrolled in an online course, most were concentrated in one of three fields: technology (24%), finance/insurance (24%) and healthcare (20%). (See chart, below.)

The report is based on a Cengage online poll of 1,200 adults in the U.S., ages 25 and older, who had either quit their job in the past six months or were seriously planning to quit in the next six months. It included adults with an array of educational backgrounds, from a high school diploma or less to advanced degrees.

With more than 8.7 million Americans quitting their jobs in October and November alone, and available jobs hovering around 10.6 million, employers and stakeholders are scrambling for ideas on how to entice workers back, from changing hiring practices and dropping degree requirements, to adding professional development opportunities and allowing more remote work.

Driving reasons

The survey found five main reasons for people resigning recently: pay, they feel burnt out, little room for growth, other passions they want to pursue and the pandemic has prompted them to reconsider their priorities or professional goals.

“Clearly, resigners are ready to walk away from jobs that aren’t meeting their expectations, even if it means making sacrifices in the present to move to the careers they envision for themselves in the future,” the report says.

About 37% of resigners plan to be out three to six months, with one-third saying they think it will be one to three months. About 15% say it will be less than a month, and 14% say it will be more than six months.

About 46% expect their next job will be in an entirely different field that they have considered for a while, with 45% thinking it will be in the same or similar industry as their last job.

A few suggestions

Academic institutions should invest more in short-term credential programs, Cengage recommends.

“Many people can’t afford to take time away from work for a two-year or four-year degree,” the report says. “The ability to return to their education as-needed will allow them to upskills throughout their career.”

Cengage also recommends that employers evolve hiring practices and provide employees with more opportunities for upskilling, reskilling and career growth.

“By fully or partially covering the costs of an online course or partnering directly with education providers to offer a suite of professional development opportunities for employees, companies may be able to retain more employees and save the costs of rehiring and retraining,” the report says.

In addition, policymakers should expand access and funding for education and training, especially in areas such as apprenticeships, hybrid learning models and partnerships with industry, Cengage says.

Allowing learners to tap into certain student aid programs would help. The report notes as an example expanding Pell grants, which currently can only be used for programs longer than 600 hours, to include short-term programs that prepare learners for in-demand job.

“Expansions like this would open up opportunity for many more Americans to access valuable skills training programs in order to advance their careers or reskill for jobs in new industries,” the report says.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.