Changing careers can be scary, especially if you have been doing the same occupation for decades. Vantage SCSEP job seeker Lynne faced just that when found she herself laid off after 25 years as an x-ray technician. As an older adult looking for a new career pathway, she knew she would need to work on some unfamiliar skills to reach her goals.
Changing careers as an older adult
Portsmouth native Lynne was an x-ray technician for 25 years when, after experiencing some health issues, she was laid off from the hospital.
She was off work for 7 to 8 months and found that there were not very many jobs available for her in her field at the time. Her job search became very hit and miss and nothing was coming through.
Vantage’s Senior Community Service Employment Program
While unemployed, Lynne started spending through her retirement funds and became uncertain about her career path. One day at an Ohio Means Jobs office, she met a SCSEP job seeker who was training at the site. She was referred to the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and within a few days was enrolled.
Vantage provides the SCSEP program in 38 Ohio counties to hundreds of older job seekers each year. By empowering older adults with the skills and confidence they need to reach their career goals, the program contributes to healthier local economies and more independent, self-sufficient community members across the state.
“As a single mom, I was so grateful and blessed to be a part of the program,” Lynne said.
In the SCSEP program, Lynne trained at various community partner sites to figure out what career path fit best with her goals. After trying a couple of different roles, she became interested in office administration.
Continued training with the Digital Inclusion Program
While training as a SCSEP participant, Lynne’s Project Director connected her to Vantage’s Digital Inclusion Program.
Vantage’s SCSEP program launched the Digital Inclusion project in 2021. In partnership with the Ohio Department of Aging, the program improves digital access and computer competencies of older Ohioans through access to digital devices and personalized, one-on-one coaching sessions from trained digital navigators.
Digital training modules provide a basic skill set that helps older job seekers be more competitive in today’s market. Some topics learners work on include Microsoft Office, Google Docs, navigating the internet, email etiquette, database management, career searching, and social media. By having these skillsets available, employers can more easily train candidates on the specific digital tools they use at their businesses.
Determined to learn – Improving digital skills for today’s workforce
Lynne had worked with computers before, but she had only focused on medical software as an x-ray technician. She wanted a broader scope of skills in order to work in an office setting. The Digital Inclusion program would provide her with the tools she would need to succeed in her new career pathway.
“I decided that I didn’t want to do x-ray tech work anymore,” said Lynne. “I love helping people and I needed to learn the office programs for my new career goals.”
Before starting the Digital Inclusion program, Lynne did not own a computer. Internet services were difficult for her to afford while searching for a job.
“It felt great to get started in the Digital Inclusion program,” said Lynne. “Julie, the lead Digital Navigator, challenged me to continue to do better. I wasn’t happy unless I got 100% on my tests. If I didn’t score perfectly, I would go back and take the test again until I did.”
Lynne was the first job seeker in the program to gain all 14 certifications offered. She continued learning through Vantage’s intermediate classes and online courses offered through the library.
Unique, one-on-one digital skills training
Vantage’s Digital Inclusion program provides individual learning opportunities. Its team of Digital Navigators works with each person in the program to discover their career goals and tailor their learning around the skills they need to succeed. Lynne enjoyed the one-on-one aspect of the training program.
“You have time to ask questions and get the answers you need,” said Lynne. “You’re not competing with others or afraid to ask the question because maybe you think it’s not that important. Groups are nice for sharing experiences and ideas, but with the individual approach you have time to ask questions and work at your own pace.”
Recognizing her accomplishments
At Vantage, we are all proud of the progress Lynne has made in the Digital Inclusion program. Lynne also recognizes her accomplishments and is most proud of her determination to succeed and continue learning.
Lynne is now looking for a position in an office setting. She also has an interest in serving the senior population.
“I love working with elderly people,” said Lynne. “There are a lot of resources out there that I didn’t know existed at my age, so I’m sure many elderly individuals don’t know about what is available to them. I would like to connect seniors with resources that help improve their lives.”
Passing her confidence on to others
Lynne admits that when she first enrolled in the Digital Inclusion program she was a little hesitant.
“My hesitancy changed into having fun,” said Lynne. “I feel more confident and prepared for the jobs I want to apply for.”
Lynne also encourages older adults to not be afraid of learning new skills. Digital skills not only help you in the workforce, but they can also make life easier by connecting you with loved ones, ordering things you need online, and attending virtual doctor visits to improve your health.
“I encourage other SCSEP job seekers to ask about the Digital Inclusion program,” said Lynne. “Even if you don’t know about computers, the program is there to help you step-by-step. You might feel overwhelmed, but you have a good team of Digital Navigators to help you. Take a deep breath and put your fears behind you.”
Are you 55 and older and interested in participating in Vantage’s SCSEP program for paid, hands-on training? Apply now.