The world is changing. From the way we communicate to the things we do each day, many aspects of our lives are much different than they would have been 20, 30, and 40 years ago.
A significant difference from past decades is that people are living and working longer. For older adults, this means keeping up with the needs of today’s workforce is essential for maintaining financial independence. But, barriers to employment such as ageism in the workplace and skill gaps make it challenging for many older adults to gain employment.
Interested in enrolling in the SCSEP program? Find your county on the map on this page to contact the VANTAGE office nearest to you!
A changing workforce
Unfortunately, some employers believe myths about older workers . Some stigmas are that older adults are expensive to employ, they call off sick often, or they have a hard time learning new skills. These examples and other older worker myths can prevent senior job seekers from finding work.
While stigmas still linger with some employers, data proves that older workers are often ideal candidates. For example, one of the highest costs to an employer is recruitment. The more an employer has to repeatedly fill the same positions because of high turnover, the more costs they accumulate. Workers over 50 years old are 5 times less likely to change jobs, compared to people 20-24. In many cases, this makes an older worker less expensive than younger candidates.
Older workers are less likely to call off from work, are focused on more than earning a paycheck, and retain information longer than younger workers. They also offer a wealth of knowledge that can only be gained through firsthand experience.
But what about computers?
Technology is an essential part of most of today’s workforce. However, computer skills training is fairly new. Some older adults have a technology skill gap because they did not need to use computers in past professional settings.
That said, older adults are not afraid of technology. Studies show that older workers are just as tech-savvy as younger individuals. They are quickly on the rise of being one of the largest groups of technology users.
In a Dropbox survey, only 13% of respondents age 55 and older reported having trouble using multiple devices, compared to 37% of 18-34 year olds. And, people 55 and older used 4.9 forms of technology per week, compared to the overall average of 4.7.
Many older adults actively seek out learning opportunities to further their computer knowledge. And through programs like the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) , older job seekers gain on-the-job training to help them succeed in their job search.
Armed with experience and a fresh education on technology, older adults are charging their way into the workforce. They are showing all of us what it means to age positively and independently.
Women at Work
A unique group of individuals in the aging population is single women. Factors such as divorce, widowhood, helping with grandchildren, and the cost of living all make reentering the workforce a necessary choice for many women age 55 and older.
In Portage County, we spoke with several women in VANTAGE’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Each individual shared a unique story that reflected courage, tenacity, and hope.
With job training and computer classes, they are facing the challenges of finding employment head on. Through SCSEP, they have learned new skills, made new friends, and helped others in the community.
Meet some of the women of Portage County who are participating in VANTAGE’s SCSEP program.
With six kids and seven grandkids, Sherrie is no stranger to adapting to make things work. As a single woman, she recognizes that things get tough, especially as costs raise from year to year. It was rough for Sherrie to live on minimum wage, so she decided to look at different employment options.
Sherrie went to Portage County Ohio Means Jobs to find job postings. The receptionist told her how VANTAGE Workforce Solutions’ SCSEP program provides paid, on-the-job training to job seekers age 55 and older.
Sherrie enrolled in SCSEP to gain the skills she needed to find full-time work. Once Sherrie was enrolled in the program, she was assigned a position at Ohio Means Jobs as a receptionist.
In her position, Sherrie helps people apply for unemployment benefits and use Ohio Means Jobs resources to find employment. She noted that OhioMeansJobs.com offers much more job postings, including assessments, job search tools, and resume strategies .
Sherrie has been taking classes at Portage County Ohio Means Jobs on Microsoft Office and computer skills. Through the classes, she has learned PowerPoint and Excel. She has also been working on data entry.
“I love it. It’s been fun,” said Sherrie. “I work with a great team and it’s been a very good experience.”
Since then, Sherrie has applied for a full-time job with Portage County Job and Family Services. She has started the interview process and is waiting to start the next step in the process. She is proud to say that this is the first time she has had multiple leads at one time.
Born in West Virginia, Starr married her high school sweetheart at age 16. Afterward, they had three children and moved to Florida. Eventually, they ended up in Ohio to be closer to their grandchildren.
Sadly, in 2015, Starr’s husband passed away. Starr was a nurse, but got in a car wreck a few years ago and damaged her rotary cuff. The injury did not allow her to lift 50 pounds – a necessity in the nursing field. She went on disability, but it was difficult living on the amount of money she was receiving.
In need of employment, Starr went to Portage County Ohio Means Jobs and talked to the receptionist about VANTAGE Workforce Solutions. She met the eligibility requirements and was enrolled in the program.
Starr was assigned to a receptionist at Portage County Ohio Means Jobs doing data entry, answering the phone, and helping patrons. She took Microsoft Office classes and wants to continue to develop her computer skills.
Starr works alongside Sherrie as a receptionist at Ohio Means Jobs. The two are good friends and enjoy being able to share their SCSEP experience together.
Although Starr has faced some challenges in the past, she does not let them bring her down. She has a history of facing the unknown without fear. As a young girl, her mother started many different businesses, including an exotic bird farm.
“We had everything from finches and parakeets to big macaws,” explained Starr. “We would pair them together, and then later collect the eggs. When the eggs would hatch, we hand fed the birds.”
Starr’s mom also taught her how to pour molds at her ceramic shops and groom dogs at her pet grooming business.
“Mom never felt sorry for herself – just jumped up and went.”
Like her mother, Starr is unafraid to take on new challenges. She is on her way to reaching her goal of full-time employment.
Sandy & Elizabeth
Sandy enrolled in VANTAGE Aging’s SCSEP program to earn a supplemental income and explore her career options. She also realized that she had a skill gap that was holding her back from full-time employment.
Sandy was laid off from a rubber company in 2009. From there, she went to school for medical billing and coding. To get a job in the field, she found out that she needed office experience.
Sandy has been enrolled in SCSEP for one month at the Portage County Senior Center. She is learning job skills for two different positions so that she can cover for co-workers when they cannot come to work. She arrives in the morning and gets things set up for the day’s activities, such as art classes and luncheons. She also works in the office and answers the phone.
SCSEP encourages growth and aims to help older adults maintain independence. Through SCSEP, Sandy earns money while balancing other aspects of her life. She is able to help out with her grandchildren and work towards a sustainable income – a great example of positive aging.
“I’m still growing up,” said Sandy. “You’re always learning. Every day, you share with other people.”
Another SCSEP participant, Elizabeth, is also in the VANTAGE SCSEP program and works with Sandy at the Senior Center. Elizabeth was impressed by Sandy’s ability to catch on and contribute so quickly. She enjoys working with Sandy and everyone at the Senior Center.
Elizabeth’s perspective on aging?
“Experience and skills benefit the entire community,” said Elizabeth. “Our seniors are our most valuable resource.”
Are you 55 and older, unemployed and looking for a job? If you meet eligibility requirements, you could receive paid, on-the-job training through VANTAGE’s SCSEP Program. Learn more here or call 330-253-4597.
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