It’s time to go back to the drawing board. And the chalk board.

The rise in the current unemployment rate is being countered by a rise in the number of individuals who are going back to school. This is nothing new. Whenever the economy takes a turn for the worst, and men and women begin to lose their jobs, community colleges and vocational programs see a dramatic upswing in their numbers.

People who believed that their job would always be there are coming to the realization that they need to find training in a new career path.

Several years ago I wrote an article about the closure of a plant in Ohio. For the life of me, I can’t remember what manufacturing sector that plant was in. But it was the lifeblood of a community and many men lost their jobs. When this happened, the local HVACR training program at the community college saw an unprecedented number of men coming in to get trained in a career that could not be shipped overseas.

Today, it looks like the same problem is happening. Men and women from all over the country are going back to the drawing board to find out where they can have a career - - not just a job that can be thrown away as soon as the economy gets bad.

Even the HVACR and sheet metal industries are having some difficult times, but this surge in vocational training is a testament to the longevity of a career in heating and air-conditioning. HVACR and sheet metal companies can endure hard economic times if they are smart. And no matter what happens to the economy, homes and businesses still need to stay warm in winter and cool in the summer.

My only hope is that when President-Elect Obama takes office with his new administration, more attention (and perhaps more dollars and funding) will go the vocational programs. It seems to be one thing people can turn to when times get tough.