More Professionals Going Back to School to Learn Hands-On Trades ({{commentsTotal}})

More people with a university degree are going back to school to study to be gardeners, craftsmen and foresters, ERR reported. Reasons vary: hedging underemployment, pursuing a change of pace and avoiding burnout, or just broadening one's skill sets.

Sigrid Salutee graduated from the University of Tartu a few years ago with a degree in journalism. Now she is enrolled at Tartu Vocational Educational Center where she is studying to become a tailor.

Salutee was drawn by an interest in art and creative work, but she doesn't see her university experience as devalued. She's keeping both doors open.

"Actually I think I'd like to do both. There are so many possibilities in life. It's really the diverse education that will give me the chance to try different things. For instance, jobs that require a higher education will not be closed to me for lack of a diploma," the journalist-slash-tailor said.

Administrators at the vocational center have noticed the trend as well. They say manual trades are the most popular, including potter, finishing specialist and culinary professions.

Ene Raud, a counselor at the center, said one reason for acquiring additional skills is that people's own speciality doesn't offer them a good outlet for accomplishing something in their working lives. Or a good salary. Thus they look for a second job.

Often people switch to a different profession due to health reasons or because the daily grind became too much.

Luua Forestry School director Haana Zuba-Reinsalu said university graduates make up more than one-third of the school's distance learners.

In Luua's case, the students are often people who want to learn about a new field. For instance, many people who have acquired forested property enroll and take courses while working full-time at their day jobs.

"Upon becoming forest owners, they wake up and realise they could learn more. It's quite welcome, really, that people want to be good stewards of their own woodlands."

The ranks of Luua students even include Brussels officials who have come to study ecotourism and related fields, said the director.

At Räpina Horticulture School, a well-known institution in the southeast, one-quarter of the students have a college degree. A Räpina school official, Karin Kask, said the most popular majors were horticulture, floral studies and landscape construction, studied for a variety of reasons - home beautification, founding a landscaping company, or just to apply for a job at a florist.

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