And they're not part of a flash mob trying to act out the song "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" from Avenue Q. These people are training for new jobs.
According to a recent article in USA Today, many post-layoff paths are leading back to the classroom. Enrollment in community college is up 27% this year, according to an informal survey by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). A spokeswoman from the group said that displaced workers account for most of the growth.
Many of the students are training for jobs in health care, many of which do not require a four-year bachelor's degree. Two-year nursing programs are popular, but students can train to be a pharmacy technician, physical therapist aide, or phlebotomist in a matter of months. A short certification program is usually sufficient for growing jobs as a medical assistant or home care aide.
For some more on training opportunities for health-care jobs, see "How to Break Into Booming Health Jobs" or "Where the Jobs Are."
Brief certification programs for others fields can also buffer you from future layoffs while providing decent pay. These professions include court reporters, massage therapists, cosmetologists (definitely can't offshore hair stylists!), and auto mechanics.
See "12 Money-Making Certifications to Boost Your Career" for more options.
Even if you haven't been laid off, getting more education is often a good way to enhance your job security. The unemployment rate for people with a bachelor's degree is currently 4.3%, compared with the overall national rate of 8.5%. And keeping your skills current through various training programs will make you a more valuable employee.
The title of this article says it all: "Getting Educated Can Save You from a Layoff."
But, of course, as the dean of DeVry University says in that article: "Learning is a lifelong process, and you can never have enough."