Q. If I were to be laid off, I want to extend my job skills to make myself more appealing. I have always been administrative, but would go into medical coding and billing as they have more job potential and less competition. How does that work if you are laid off? You can go to school and collect your benefits from what I understand, however, does unemployment pay for school, or help pay for it?
A. You are smart to look at alternative ways of making your job skills more marketable in a very challenging employment market.
Healthcare is one field that seems to have remained a bit more stable than other industries. Medical records and health information technicians will enjoy a strong demand for services, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . A few additional sources of information include the American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders. It would be wise to spend a bit of time researching this profession before forging ahead.
The intent of unemployment compensation is to provide temporary financial assistance to those workers who are willing, available, and looking for new employment opportunities. If you visit www.mass.gov/dua, click on claimants, there is a good overview of unemployment compensation.
For specific information on the training options available to workers, you can again visit www.mass.gov/dua and toward the bottom of that page, there is a link called "Need Training to Become Re-Employed." Click on that link and there is an abundance of information on the Training Opportunities Program available through the Division of Employment Assistance (DUA).
Under Section 30 of the Massachusetts State Unemployment Laws, there is a possibility that you may be eligible for an 18-week extension of your employment compensation if you need additional training to find a new role. The Division of Unemployment Assistance will not pay for the training in most cases, however. And you must file an application and then get an approval from the DUA to receive this 18-week extension of unemployment benefits. It is not an automatic extension of benefits. Funding assistance may be available to some, but again it is not guaranteed. More details are provided online. This link provides some basic information and some of the requirements of the program - http://www.mass.gov/Elwd/docs/dua/1938_508.pdf. You may also call 617-626-5375 for more information and to discuss your particular situation and career interests.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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