New allure for Old World work

Many of us earnest worker bees give serious thought to "career development" every half decade or so. We declare ourselves at a crossroads and then start rummaging around for some way to reinvent our work lives.

Plenty of career coaches call this an essential exercise.

Feeling adventurous? Plumb the opportunities at other organizations in your field. Or daydream about jumping into a different industry altogether. That can help pass the time during a long commute.

In the end, it's quite often enough to take a vacation and come back with a haircut, a crisp new shirt, and a plan to confront old duties with new vigor.

But sometimes it's not.

One good result of the bad-news barrage of the past few years - an economic slump, terrorism, assorted disasters, and apparent new diseases - is that more people are putting work in perspective, asking whether they can do what they want to do and still get by.

That can mean selecting from a much broader palette of vocations than the ones you come across at your standard college career fair.

Ever wanted to work with your hands? (No, tapping on a computer keyboard doesn't count.) You may not have to click through one of those "psychometric assessments" posted on the Web to know that your true calling is in crafting fine cabinetry, or bookbinding.

Those aren't frivolous pursuits. Between 2000 and 2010, jobs requiring a "postsecondary vocational award" will be among the fastest growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (That probably assumes a continued building boom.)

Today's lead story looks inside an old Boston institution that's still training people in the crafts. Grads find enrichment, and employment.

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