When it Comes to Jobs, Older Workers Have What Counts
Akron, Ohio – September 20, 2019. During the last week of September, the U.S. Department of Labor celebrates National Employ Older Workers Week. This special week honors older workers and showcases the Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP).
The goal of the event is to publicize the positive impact of older workers on the job and the barriers that prevent employment. Many seniors work after retirement for economic reasons, reliable income, social connections, health insurance, having a purpose, having work goals, mental stimulation, or because they enjoy their job.
- For unemployed people 55 and older, about 54 percent had been jobless for 26 weeks or less, and about 47 percent for longer than that.
- In 2014, older workers represented 8.9% of the unemployed in the U.S. Of these, 198,000 did not look for work based on the belief no jobs were available for them.
Barriers to employment include stereotypes about older workers. They are too old, lack training, resist new technology, have trouble with young supervisors, cannot multitask, and rate low in production. While these barriers exist, AARP studies demonstrate these are often myths as older workers excel in these categories while offering organizations the perspectives and talent through a lifetime of experience.
Based in Akron, VANTAGE Aging provides community services to train, motivate, and empower older job seekers. Serving 38 Ohio counties, the organization administers seven regional Employment & Training Solutions Centers, where the SCSEP program is offered. Funded by the Department of Labor and the Ohio Department of Aging, the program provides on the job training for low-income, unemployed seniors. Participants work an average of 20 hours per week at non-profit businesses and public facilities, earning the current minimum wage.
According to Kate Harkin, Director of SCSEP at VANTAGE Aging, “Workforce Solutions helps older job seekers re-establish themselves and become viable candidates in today’s job market. By providing tools that launch new career pathways, participants find a fresh chance at successfully reaching financial sustainability and independence.”
Starr has faced life events that have created barriers to finding employment. After her husband passed away, she continued working as a nurse. But an injury as a result of a car accident prevented her from being able to lift over fifty pounds – a necessity in her field. Starr enrolled in Workforce Solutions and began training as a receptionist and learning computer skills. She is optimistic about the future and has enjoyed growing her professional skills.
Marilyn relocated from Tennessee to Ohio when she had a hard time finding work. Despite having experience in social services, she remained unemployed for several years. Near homelessness and relying on assistance, Marilyn enrolled in VANTAGE Workforce Solutions. Through the program, she gained the confidence and skills she needed to successfully land a sustainable job at a community organization. Marilyn said, “This is my dream job and I am very appreciative of the VANTAGE Workforce Solutions program that provided the pathway to my success.”
VANTAGE Workforce Solutions helps older adults explore new opportunities and be a part of today’s growing industries. Several Mahoning County participants are channeling their passion for technology into learning computer coding. “Just because some technology wasn’t available then, it’s available now,” said Elizabeth. “There are STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] programs for young girls. Older women want to learn too. We want the same opportunities as younger people.”
Support older workers this week and every day. Recognize their contribution, especially if you are an employer and seeking job candidates. Older adults fill an important position in our economy and benefit America’s leadership in the world marketplace.
For more information about VANTAGE Aging and our Workforce Solutions program, visit our website at www.vantageaging.org or call our headquarters at 800-554-5335.
About VANTAGE Aging: VANTAGE Aging provides high-quality programs to empower the economic, social, physical, and mental well-being of adults as they age. Non-medical in-home care is provided by Home Wellness Solutions. Behavioral Health Solutions offers mental health counseling and treatment for alcohol and other drug use issues to adults age 45 and older. Job training for low-income adults age 55 and older is offered through the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Evidenced-based volunteering to meet local and national needs is provided by RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers. Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio provides home-delivered and congregate meals to provide nutritional support to the homebound and disabled. Overall, VANTAGE’s programs come together to offer a path for positive aging. Founded in 1975 as a senior citizen program, VANTAGE has since become an independent, nationally respected organization with offices throughout the state. For more information, call 330.253.4597 or visit www.vantageaging.org.