Bad economy? Back to school

RALEIGH At Wake Technical Community College, Eugene Mock may be the oldest student in his Spanish class.

"I'm a very busy person even though I'm not working," he told Eyewitness News.

Mock is one of a growing number who are taking refuge from economic hard times by going back to school.

"Since about the end of November, it's pretty much fell to nothing. There's just nobody hiring," Mock explained.

Before the downturn, Mock helped write manuals for the tech world. Now, he's finding businesses won't hire him without a bachelor's degree.

"It'll open doors that are shut now because companies have policies in place that pretty much state: these are our minimum requirements, and, if you don't meet the minimum requirements, they won't even consider hiring you at all," said Mock.

Wake Tech officials say enrollment is up more than 14 percent over last spring and the economy definitely plays into that. Wake Tech's President Steve Scott has lived through four economic downturns and he says the current layoffs are helping drive enrollment.

"We also have that group of people who are afraid that they might lose their job who are coming back to sharpen their skills," said Scott.

Scott says their healthcare and business programs are filling up fast.

"When the economy turns down, white collar employees, many of them start their own businesses so we're seeing a spike in enrollment in our small business center," he said.

Mock isn't starting a business, but he hopes going back to school will get him back on the job. He has advice for those in the same boat.

If you don't have a degree, go to school and get a degree. That's the bottom line because people will not hire you without a degree," he said.

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