How to Deal With Winter Downtime

You worked hard all summer and made a lot of money. But now summer is over and winter is quickly approaching. With winter comes downtime.

When you’re young, temporary lay-offs can be fun: Parties, travel, music and sporting events make layoffs easier to handle. When you’re older, with bills to pay and mouths to feed, layoffs can be very worrisome. There are a few basic steps you can take to help deal with temporary layoffs.

If you’ve been laid off, you should file for unemployment insurance as soon as possible. The sooner you file, the sooner you can be deemed eligible and the sooner you can start receiving funds. The unemployment agency will verify with your employer the reason for you losing your job.

If you are not happy in the roofing industry you might be interested in retraining, not only to learn new job skills but also to keep your mind sharp. Consider the following:

  • Take some community college courses. Community colleges are relatively inexpensive and offer a wide variety of courses to improve work skills while earning valuable college credits that may lead to a possible degree.
  • Visit your local unemployment office. It will have lists of apprenticeship and training opportunities that can lead to a more secure position.
  • Select courses at a location vocational/technical school. These schools offer a wide variety of hands-on training at reasonable costs.
  • Purchase books or software to use on your own. There are many free and reasonably priced online training and education classes available.

See “Training Resources” below for some additional ideas.

If you love roofing and want to remain in the trade, there are steps you can take to keep your head above water—financially speaking.

John M. Grohol, Psy.D., writes in “7 Ways to Cope with a Layoff” that you need to take a realistic look at your finances and budget. Do not put this off longer than a week after you are laid off. Although we may not enjoy dealing with our finances, failure to do so could result in a far worse situation down the road (which always arrives sooner than you think). Dr. Grohol suggests: “Be creative in analyzing your budget for places to cut.” Most of us assume we need things like digital television and unlimited mobile calling plans. But most of us don’t. He adds, “Now’s the time to put aside your wants temporarily and focus exclusively on your and your family’s needs.”

Your savings, rainy-day fund and even your 401(k) may offer you some temporary financial relief. Borrowing from your 401(k), for instance, is usually less expensive than adding to your credit-card debt because you are paying back the loan with interest to yourself (not a credit card company). However, borrowing from your 401(k) and other retirement accounts is usually recommended only as a last resort.

Take care of your insurance. We often don’t think about insurance until we’re faced with a layoff and find out just how expensive insurance really is. Your employer will likely offer you COBRA, which allows you to continue your employer’s health benefits with one catch: You now have to pay what your employer was paying for your benefits. Be prepared for sticker shock. Most people are amazed that a family of four’s health insurance on COBRA might be as high as $1,000 or even $1,500 a month; for a single person or couple, it can be anywhere from $500 to $800 per month. When paying bills is already going to be a challenge, COBRA might be out of reach.

Shop around. With the Affordable Care Act, there are a lot more health-insurance plans available at a wide range of costs. You may find other health insurance coverage for your family that is less expensive and won’t cut your benefits in any significant way. Weigh the costs with what you can afford. For example, you may have to pay a higher deductible for inpatient hospital stays to achieve a lower monthly premium.

If you want or need to keep working, hit the classifieds. Nearly all classified sections now are online, so searching through them is far easier than it was 10 years ago. Although it might seem like nobody is hiring (and in the construction profession, that may very well be true), you should keep an eye out anyway. Jobs sometimes become available as people retire or a company’s focus changes. Extend your search somewhat outside your trade, as well, just to see what else might be available. Check out your “dream job”, too. Some people use a layoff as an opening for a new opportunity.

Use the unemployment resources available to you, whether through your ex-employer or through your local government. Libraries, too, often offer a great set of employment and career resources (such as résumé writing services). Don’t be afraid to network. Make your situation known, build connections and, soon, unemployment will be a thing of the past!

Training Resources

The following are examples of free or low-cost training opportunities you may want to consider when you are laid off:
Free
College courses from American Standard University
Solar training in New Jersey from Information & Technology Management
Your state may offer free training, like New York

Low Cost
Penn Foster Career School

More Ideas
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration provides information and services to assist workers who have been or will be laid off.

Search for apprenticeships and youth education/training programs, like one in New York.

Interested in the safety profession? Check out Free-Training.com/osha/soshamenu.htm and Free-Training.com.

NABTU and ACEEE Collaborate to Create Training Opportunities Via Energy Efficiency Program Investments

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) unveils a collaborative effort that describes the potential to create career training opportunities via investments in energy efficiency programs.

Formal energy efficiency policies throughout our nation are estimated to require the skills of hundreds of thousands of skilled craft professionals. Leveraging these investments to create career training opportunities via a formal apprenticeship training is an ideal scenario.

“As states make the necessary plans for a clean energy future, they should consider the social and economic benefits of their decisions. Energy efficiency programs have the potential to provide jobs and career training opportunities for a significant number of Americans,” commented Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

As we progress towards a more energy-efficient economy, the manufacturing, industrial, and power sectors are considering investments that will lower their operating costs by conserving energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed the Clean Energy Incentive Program that is designed to credit states for early Clean Power Plan compliance action, with the hopes that such a move will spur energy efficiency measures despite the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the climate change rule.

As we have seen with other sectors of the economy, this has the potential to create career training opportunities in the skilled trades, provided that industry, government and labor work in tripartite harmony to make it happen.

“North America’s Building Trades Unions and its signatory contractors invest over $1 billion annually in the world’s most successful skilled craft apprenticeship infrastructure,” said Sean McGarvey president of NABTU. “We have real-world experience in working with businesses, industry, government and community organizations that see the value in leveraging public and private investment so that they create opportunities for career training in the skilled trades, particularly for historically neglected communities, such as women, people of color, military veterans, and urban youth. Energy efficiency investments have that same potential, and we are proud to join with ACEEE to issue a call to make that a reality.”

Click here to read the joint fact sheet.