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Ohio Department of Aging Aging News and Perspective

Seven success stories to celebrate National Employ Older Workers Week
SCSEP helps older Ohioans play a meaningful role in our workforce

Sept. 21, 2016

Ohio and the rest of the nation are undergoing a substantial demographic shift that is changing the role that older adults play in the workplace.Ohio and the rest of the nation are undergoing a substantial demographic shift that is changing the role that older adults play in the workplace. By 2020, workers 55 and over will make up an estimated 25 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force, up from just 13 percent in 2000. An aging workforce presents both challenges and opportunities to meet workforce needs and give older adults meaningful opportunities to grow, thrive and contribute.

This week (Sept. 18-24) is National Employ Older Workers Week, a time when we recognize the vital role of older workers in the workforce while we also increase awareness of older workers as a labor resource and innovative strategies to tap their collective power.

Ohio's Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is one way Ohio is promoting older workers' involvement in the workforce. SCSEP provides service-based training for income eligible job seekers age 55-plus at local non-profit and public organizations. Here are some of SCSCEP's success stories.

Susan used SCSEP to use her valuable skills and experience to chart a new course in her chosen field.

Susan B. enrolled in the Columbus AARP Foundation SCSEP in March 2015. Susan, a certified teacher of many years, had trouble finding permanent work in her profession. She believed that the primary reason was due to her age. She found tutoring and substitute teaching fulfilling, but the wages were not consistent. The SCSEP project director spoke with the retail sales supervisor at the Columbus State Community College Bookstore to see if he would host Susan, thinking the environment would appeal to Susan, as a teacher. After an interview, the retail sales supervisor agreed to host Susan and from day one, it was an excellent fit. Susan was very comfortable working with all of the students flowing through the busy college bookstore. She quickly learned all of the duties of the position and blossomed in the assignment which allowed her witty sense of humor to come out. Susan's supervisor provided glowing reviews of her work and her fit within the bookstore. Seventeen days after she started her training assignment, Susan was offered a position. Approximately one month later, she received a raise. Susan reports that she absolutely loves the position, her managers and co-workers. She is in an environment that is comfortable and second nature to her. She now has the consistent income she needed and to make it even better, she is now a "known entity" at the college and can be a candidate to tutor and teach as an adjunct instructor.

Another SCSEP participant, Charles, acquired new skills to pursue his career goal.

Charles enrolled in SCSEP with Mature Services in April 2015. He was forced to leave his factory position in 2012 due to a back injury and was unable to live on his disability benefits and small pension. He needed to change his career goal and upgrade his skills to be competitive in the job market. When Charles came to the program, he was interested in working in the custodial area, but he did not have much experience. He was assigned to a host agency as custodial aide and was doing well learning new skills. He was later hired as a custodian at his host agency, which was very exciting for him. Charles stated that he was indebted to the SCSEP Program for the opportunity to acquire the skills to pursue his employment goal. The host agency supervisor stated that Charles was a perfect fit for her agency.

Nina is an example of how an older worker can overcome her self-imposed limitations with the right training approach.

Nina had been successfully hired by her host agency for 7 years before budget cuts resulted in her lay off. Nina called Mature Services and she was enrolled as a clerical intern. While Nina is very personable and enjoys talking with new people, her lack of computer skills limited the training she could receive. However, Nina was adamantly opposed to computer training, citing her age of 81 as a deterrent. After 3 unsuccessful interviews, all because she lacked computer skills, Nina realized how much she needed computer training. Fear was her biggest concern, so she started slow. She began using the mouse, learning the letters on the keyboard, and gradually gained confidence. Nina is now using the Internet to find answers to questions, typing memos to project staff, and is buying her own tablet to continue utilizing her new skills. She will eventually be placed in a beginning computer class. According to Nina: "I've lost all fear and intimidation. I touched the button and nothing exploded or broke."

Older workers in increasing numbers are remaining on the job beyond the traditional age of retirement, both for economic reasons and because they enjoy their jobs. Helping older adults remain in the workforce also provides a boost to our national economy because these workers pay taxes and cover more of their own expenses during their later years. Studies have shown that, contrary to ageist stereotypes, older workers are a good investment, rating high on characteristics such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance, and punctuality.

Sylvia is a great worker who lacked self-confidence, not talent or ability.

Sylvia came to Mature Services after being unemployed for more than two years. She felt her age was a barrier to finding employment. Mature Services was able to place her at a Senior Community Center where she assisted with office and receptionist duties, which helped with both her confidence and her outlook on finding employment. Sylvia was able to find employment as an administrative assistant at an adult day care center. She has been so successful and enthusiastic about her position that the company is considering her for a promotion to director for one of their facilities.

Donald's story shows that there is always a job for the right person with the right skills.

In June 2014, Donald, who was retired, was dealing with medical bills, which required him to work again. Donald was placed at United Way to do some administrative/receptionist training. Donald's consulting experience made him a good fit and he was comfortable dealing with United Way and their donors. Everyone at United Way loved Donald. He even played the role of the Cat in the Hat at a community reading event. A year before Donald's durational limit was up, United Way staff called his supervisor and said they needed to find a way to keep him when his time ended with Mature Services. United Way used the next 12 months to continue to train Don on the skills he would need. The agency created a position for Don and hired him part time.

Deborah's story proves that training and experience can lead to the right job.

Deborah had been unemployed for three years and had not worked in the clerical field for five. When she applied for SCSEP services, she was living in subsidized housing. She completed an internship in the clerical field with a government agency. While she was interning, she was able to improve her computer skills and develop a recent work history. At the end of her internship she was hired by the local Veterans Administration hospital as a medical support assistant. She says that she would not have been able to get the job without her training from Mature Services.

Paul's desire to serve his community has led his career goals.

When Paul came to Mature Services SCSEP in 2014, his goals were to build current work experience and develop/update his computer skills. When it was determined that Paul had beginner's level computer skills, he took the initiative to develop this skill by completing courses at the local library and enrolling in a Tech Connect Program. Paul was assigned to the Lorain Urban Minority Alcoholism & Drug Outreach Program where he serves as an administrative assistant intern to the director. Since taking the position, Paul has gone above and beyond what has been required by obtaining the needed certificates and training to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. He has assisted with group meetings that provide drug and alcohol counseling. In addition to his regular duties, Paul has assisted the director in creating grant proposals which are crucial to the organization. Upon completion of the chemical dependency counselor assistant (Phase I) training, Paul plans to start his own nonprofit organization that will help the local community combat substance abuse issues, gang violence, and domestic abuse, in addition to empowering the community for a better tomorrow.

To be eligible for SCSEP, participants must be 55 or older, unemployed, residents of Ohio and have a household income under 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Learn more and find a SCSEP provider in your community.

The Department of Aging thanks our SCSEP provider partners for providing these success stories.


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