Ex-Autoworkers Retool for Lower Paying Jobs
Industry vets remake themselves as truck drivers, nurses' aides
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2009 7:42 AM CDT
Workers leave the Chrysler North Assembly Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio after a shift.   (AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero)
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(Newser) – Hundreds of thousands of ex-autoworkers left adrift by the industry's implosion are having to learn new skills and get used to lower pay, the Washington Post reports. Community colleges in the auto industry's heartland are jam-packed with midlife workers aiming to qualify quickly to become truck drivers, computer technicians or nursing aides. "I've been humbled quite a bit," says one 39-year-old autoworker-turned-nursing aide who's living in his mother's basement.   

"What we're seeing is the death of the conventional middle-class life and an increase in the population of working poor," says the president of one Detroit community college. Some in new careers are enjoying the feeling of job security, despite the withered pay packets. "Of course, 20 years ago, people thought the auto industry would always be solid," says the new nursing aide. "But, for now, I feel good about it."