By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Over the last year, thousands of Coloradans found themselves applying for unemployment for the first time. While many have scrambled to find new jobs in their old fields, others used the unexpected break to explore other opportunities.

Many who were forced to find new jobs used the last year as a chance to learn new skills.  Technical Colleges like Emily Griffith are training a post-Covid workforce.

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“The pandemic actually gave people time to think about what they want to do for their future. People are coming in for a number of reasons. It’s all economic, but it’s also about changing life trajectories and bettering themselves,” said Randy Johnson, Executive Director of Emily Griffith Technical College. “We speak less about jobs and more about career and life choices.”

There are currently 10 programs at Emily Griffith Technical College with waitlists:

– Medical Assisting
– Dental Assisting
– Automotive Services
– Barbering
– Cosmetology
– Esthetician
– Multimedia Video Production
– Phlebotomy
– Welding

Keith Schmidtke, a former restaurant worker, is enrolled in the Automotive Services programs at Emily Griffith Technical College. He has no interest in returning to his past work in the food and beverage industry.

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“I just wasn’t enjoying it. There wasn’t enough room for improvement, not enough pay and really rough hours,” said Schmidtke. “I’ve always been interested in cars. I did home projects, but that was about it. Once the pandemic hit, I was sure this was the career path I wanted to go into.”

Schmidtke says he was inspired to make the change to automotive after hearing how secure the job industry is from his friends in the business. Once he completes the program, he hopes to gain employment at a Dodge dealership.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The cost of the automotive service program at Emily Griffith Technical College is about $9,900. According to the school, the average salary for this career is around $50,000 per year.

“Individuals going through professional training are hugely competitive with any graduates out there, be it from a two or four-year school,” said Johnson. “When you come into a place like this, you realize that there’s hope. They know they’ll soon be a professional out there in the industry.”

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For more information on programs at Emily Griffith Technical College visit

Tori Mason