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Laid off? Consider free job training

Gerri Willis offers tips on re-starting your career in the changing job market.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Over two and a half million Americans lost their job last year. And more job cuts are expected this year. If you find yourself out of work, retraining may be the only option. Here is where you can find help free right now.

1. Turn to Uncle Sam

The Department of Labor sponsors a Web site called Careeronestop.org. You can find a list of industries with the largest employment and those projected to grow the fastest. You'll also be able to find employment and wage information.

There's also an education finder so you can locate colleges and schools that offer programs in your field of interest. If you don't have a computer, The U.S. Department of Labor can provide this information over the phone. Call 1-877-US-2JOBS.

2. Think non-profit

Your local Goodwill organization is also a good resource for you if you've been out of work for a long time, you have disabilities or a lack of education.

Goodwill organizations train people for jobs in IT, health care, retail, banking and landscape. On its Web site, the organization says it places someone in a good job every 53 seconds. As part of its career services, Goodwill helps people conduct job searches, write resumes and practice their interviewing skills.

While they're looking for permanent work, job seekers can also be placed in temporary Goodwill jobs - like the retail stores. To find your local Goodwill, check out http://locator.goodwill.org.

3. Resources for older workers

If you are over 55 and meet income requirements AARP has a Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). This program is free of charge and AARP staff will assess your job skills and interests, connect you with training, help you update your resume and provide you with job leads with employers.

As part of the program you will also work part time for a host agency for at least minimum wage. During this time, AARP will work with you to find a permanent part-time or full-time job. For more information, or to find a SCSEP program in your area, go to aarp.org and enter in SCSEP in the search tool.

4. Start your own business

Perhaps you've always wanted to be your own boss. Maybe now is the time to explore that dream. Go to the US Small Business Administration Web site at sba.gov. Here you'll be able to download online courses with topics that range from how to start your own business to preparing a business plan and building your Web site to tips on winning customers in a down economy. To top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to toptips@cnn.com or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and CNNMoney.com.
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