Imagine the difficulty of finding a job if you don’t have the necessary skills. That’s the reality facing many older Americans trying to reenter the workforce. The clock is ticking as they struggle to gain financial independence, self-respect, and an improved quality of life.
Experience Works largest program, the Senior Community Service Employment Program or SCSEP, is a stepping stone to employment for low-income, unemployed individuals age 55 and older. Through a mix of training and support services, this U.S. Department of Labor-funded program is helping older job seekers overcome obstacles, build confidence, and get what they need to compete in today’s job market.
With the help of dedicated staff, participants tap into interests, transferable skills, and personal goals to develop individual employment plans.
The next step places participants in community service assignments with local public and nonprofit organizations, better known as host agencies, as a way to gain real-time work experience. Each assignment is carefully selected and based upon a participant’s desire to learn.
The opportunities are endless – performing clerical duties for a busy community health clinic, maintaining the appearance of a YMCA, or assisting in a public library. While some participants remain at one host agency during their training, others might be relocated several times as a way to broaden their scope of training.
Participants earn minimum wage while performing community service duties and participating in training – averaging approximately 20 hours each week. The extra money is a much-needed supplement for those trying to makes ends meet on meager social security or disability checks. For some, it is the only source of income and truly makes the difference between their ability to afford a rent or mortgage payment, and being homeless.
As participants become job ready, they develop a real sense of pride knowing their efforts are making a difference in their communities. Last year alone, roughly 3,000 participants nationwide contributed nearly 2,000,000 hours to enhance and expand local services. Many host agencies report that some outreach and services would not be possible without the extra help they provide.
The length of time spent in the program varies, but in most cases does not exceed two years.
Throughout their enrollment, participants have access to additional training in computer skills, resume development, interview skills, job search assistance, certification programs, and much more.
With ongoing support and guidance, participants can fulfill the program goal of transitioning into meaningful employment, whether they are hired by their host agencies, or use their new skills and experiences as a springboard to jobs with new employers.