How displaced female textile workers make a successful transition to skilled employment
Templeton, Debra Roberts
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With the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), many American textile workers are being displaced as their jobs shift overseas. After losing their jobs, these workers are faced with the choice of either trying to find another job in a tough job market or retraining for skilled employment. Many of these workers are opting to retrain at local community colleges. The purpose of this study was to understand how displaced female textile workers made a successful transition to skilled employment. This study also examined how adult learning and other factors influenced this transition process. The methodology for this study involved semi-structured interviews with thirteen women who had lost their job in textiles, retrained at a community college, and then found employment unrelated to their previous job. Data collected through interviewing was analyzed using the constant comparative method. There were three major study findings and conclusions. First, there was a common transition process for this group. This process involved anticipation of job loss for some of the participants. All participants experienced an initial reaction which included a wide range of emotions. A strong desire for job security proved to be a catalyst that propelled the participants into action to enroll in college. After enrolling in college, he participants experienced an adjustment period which was followed by period where the participants began to conceptualize being a student as similar to being a worker. All of the study participants were reintegrated into the workforce into higher-skill employment. Adult learning experiences such as learning basic such as learning basic computer competency influenced the transition process from beginning to end. Finally, there were some factors including a support network, interactive instructional techniques, readiness for change, personal commitment, and financial support that also influenced the transition process. Recommendations for future research included the conduct of studies that used male participants or other female participants who did not successfully make this transition.