Laid-off Boise workes begin retraining for their Plan b

Joe Klebenow was among the 1,500 Micron Technology workers that the semiconductor manufacturer began furloughing in Boise in October.

A Micron electronic technician for 13 years, Klebenow had been laid off by the company several times over the years. By the time the latest furlough came on Oct. 22, he had a plan.

On Jan. 20, Klebenow will begin retraining in diesel technology at the Larry Selland College of Applied Technology on the campus of Boise State University. His goal is to land a job in the energy or transportation fields, industries where he believes those skills will be in demand.

Klebenow's story has become all-too-common in the Treasure Valley, where a stagnant economy has more than doubled the area's unemployment rate in the past year. With economists predicting high unemployment well into 2010, some people are making new career plans in case they get caught in the economic downdraft.

Like hundreds of displaced Micron workers, Klebenow's retraining is being financed under The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, a federally funded program that offers retraining to workers whose jobs have moved off-shore. The program will cover tuition, materials and extended unemployment benefits during the two years he is in school.

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