The Department of Rehabilitation exists in every state of the union (USA) and will pay all costs for any kind of re-training that you might need, as it's something job-related. You qualify only by needing job retraining as you can no longer do what you USED to do. In other words, you tell the intake person that you USED to do business X as a job, but that you became ill and couldn't continue, meaning your knees got problematic, your back went out or carpal syndrome if a typist. You can go whole hog and say you developed fear of enclosed spaces, had stress-related mental illness, maybe eye strain. Some malady. They're not big on checking and you can say that you couldn't afford a doctor but had to quit that line of work.

The STATE will pay your books, tuition, cost of bus or gas to get to class and get home. That's everything!

THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO GET JOB TRAINING FOR FREE. Some employers will pay for your training.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE TRAINED FOR? Well, my belief is....the RECESSION in AMERICA is going to be HUGE. So I'd get trained for something useful if SOCIETY falls in and you have to retire to the countryside.  I was wondering...if anybody on my HOMESTEADERS' list cared to suggest a prioritized list of typical Vo-Tech skills-classes for the "equipped" homesteader? E.g., take metalworking first, then arc welding, then woodworking, then gas welding, then auto-mechanizing.

I got an answer from a genius on my list who said "oh boy---dog in a butcher shop! Metalworking is generally understood as sheet-metal, useful but lower in priority to heavier metal fabrication which is
incorporated in the welding courses. I'd start with arc-welding, both AC and DC rods, and including MIG, TIG wire-spool---they are easiest, make good welds without a lot of practice, and will handle all the welding (up to 1/2-inch plate) that you are likely to need.

You might do gas-welding, though it is chiefly useful for cutting, and the newer plasma-cutters are displacing gas. I've fought enough with gas suppliers over my oxygen and acetylene bottles--if I were in a remote area and if younger, maybe where I am, I would buy a Taiwanese water-electrolysis unit and make my own oxygen and hydrogen cheaper than I can buy it from the friendly gas-conspiracy people.

Next, I would do foundry, both ferrous cupola and non-ferrous. Make your own foundry , your own charcoal (hard to get coking coal any more) and other equipment from the Lindsay Gingery books---and don't forget aluminum injection-molding and thermoplastic injection-molding. My partner Gingery has a book on the latter, and I have plans for a simple aluminum-injection machine somewhere around here. Get your catalog  at this website.

Following that I would do automotive mechanics---that will cover diesel as well as IC engines. No good mechanic need worry about where to find part-time or full-time employment, and I know a lot of them earning well above $50,000 a year. Need a heated, well-lit, well-equipped shop to work in though---the dirt is bearable, but cold, dampness and poor lighting isn't.

And then there's electronics. You wouldn't want to repair TV's, (briefly had a shop when black and white TV was the mainstay) though its interesting, because they are not essential to communications and business and the work doesn't pay enough.

Computers are another matter. Anyone who can quickly (or at all) diagnose and repair a problem can name his/her ticket. That person can make a living out of his garage."

His advice is good. I know a forty year old woman who did a few months at trade school boning up on PC's. Now she picks up every free computer component or PC itself, offered at CRAIGS LIST "FREE" page and she gets every PC related offer daily (there can be twenty a day,) from FREECYCLE ORG (which is in every city of US.)

The really old PCs she cannibalizes for gold, platinum which she sells. The newer ones get disk wiped, then really fine programs inserted. WINDOWS 98SE, web design software, word processing, Microsoft OFFICE.... She then sells them with printer, monitor, to a family wanting their kids computer literate. She also gives the 'how to' lessons. Everybody trusts a woman with their kids for hours So she's booked full time.

SHe also fixes PC's and peripherals. The Mac rep or Hewlett Packard rep wouldn't get out of bed if he couldn't see $50,000 in his pot --- and he's good enough to get more if he wants it. It is useless and hideously expensive to take a computer in for repair to the big computer-repair operations. They are not necessarily dishonest, just uniformly incompetent. To them Plug and Play means blindly replacing all the components until the machine works again---eight or nine hundred dollars later they might get it right, or maybe it still won't work.

"LAST, woodworking skills are an essential part of homesteading, building houses or building furniture---but unless incorporated in your small shop production-line as a business---making furniture for example, it may save you money, but won't make much. But kitchen cupboards, bookshelves, that's another thing, entirely!  It's something to think about if you have some good hardwoods in your woodlot, and plans to make or buy a lumbermaking bandsaw."

I would appreciate your reminding me of other skills that would make life in the countryside easier.