Since December of 2007, New Jersey’s financial sector has shed more than 16,000 jobs, with thousands of New Yorkers losing similar jobs in the city. In March, New Jersey State Legislature approved a program called Traders to Teachers, designed to turn unemployed finance professionals into math teachers in as little as three months. Montclair State University is offering free classes for candidates who are not required to have been math majors.
Traders to Teachers will do more than retrain dislocated workers, it will also help to ease the state’s shortage of math teachers. The first 25 of the newly trained teachers are expected to be placed in teaching positions this coming January, with three more groups expected to be trained within a year, a Montclair State administrator said.
The response to the program has been overwhelming. According to university administrators, within 48 hours of its announcement more than 200 people had called or emailed, and at least 100 are expected to apply for the first class of 25 students. Retraining financial services professionals as teachers “makes a heck of a lot of sense,” said Dr. James W. Hughes of Rutgers University. “It may produce a cadre of highly skilled, talented teachers who ordinarily wouldn’t have gone into the profession.”
Whether they will remain in it is another issue, he said. “A year or two down the road, when there is strong economic recovery, some people might drift back to opportunities in the financial world,” Dr. Hughes said. “But who knows? The future hasn’t been written.”