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OscarMayer Kraft

Kraft Foods-Oscar Meyer headquarters and plant in Madison is closing.

When Oscar Mayer announced the closing of its Madison headquarters, I mourned the loss of 1,000 jobs. But I feel confident the displaced workers can land on their feet, given the range of programs in the Madison area for job training and searching.

I’ve seen such programs get results at UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies, which constantly evolves to changing needs. As economic disruptions become more common, institutions must be agile to prepare our workforce for success.

Oscar Mayer employees concerned about their future can start at Continuing Studies’ Adult Career and Special Student Services, where our counselors offer free career and educational planning. These are the same experts who publish monthly “Career Corner” columns in the State Journal, providing practical advice to job seekers. It’s all part of the Wisconsin Idea: using the university’s expertise to serve the larger community.

John Vander Meer took advantage of our services when he lost his job during the recession. He joined our weekly Job Search Support Group and enrolled in a career-planning workshop.

His resourcefulness paid off. After focusing his search, he landed a communications position with the Wisconsin Health Care Association.

“I felt very fortunate to have the ability to work with capable career counselors who care passionately about helping people find rewarding employment,” he says.

For those who have a bachelor’s degree, the website showcases courses and certificate programs that can lead to new careers. They’re offered online, on evenings and weekends, so adults can learn new skills while keeping up with work and life demands.

Continuing Studies is only one of several local resources helping people shift gears in our unpredictable economy. Whether it’s Madison College or the state Department of Workforce Development, help is here. Let’s spread the word so those who need it can move on with their careers.

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Russell is vice provost for lifelong learning and dean of Continuing Studies at UW-Madison: