Experience Works Helps More Older Job Seekers with Stimulus Money

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Experience Works encourages older job seekers to find out if they qualify for services provided by the economic stimulus program. In March, an additional $120 million will be injected into the Senior Community Service Program, the only existing federal program serving older workers.

With the additional money provided through the stimulus program, we will be able to help more older workers re-tool and re-enter the workforce.

Older job seekers across the country soon will get a boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Obama on Feb. 17. An additional $120 million is set to be injected this month into the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the only existing federal program serving older workers.

"This is welcome news for many older job seekers in the United States who, because of their current economic situation, need to re-enter the workforce," said Cynthia Metzler, president and CEO of Experience Works, a non-profit agency that operates the SCSEP in 30 states and Puerto Rico. "This program provides an important safety net and stepping stone for many who are facing difficult times. The stimulus money will allow us to provide additional services to older workers and their communities."

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, SCSEP is free to participants who are 55 and older and meet low income criteria. Through the SCSEP, Experience Works assists older people with self-assessments, technical and skills training, the job search process, and finding an appropriate training assignment with a local community service agency. The goal is to provide participants with the skills and tools to transition from their community service assignments to permanent employment with a local employer.

Experience Works has seen an increase of up to 70 percent nationwide in the number of people age 55 and older who are seeking assistance. "We are not talking about people who need a little extra income to help pay for their hobbies," said Metzler. "We are seeing people who need jobs to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table and medicine in the cabinet."    

As of January 2009, there were 881,000 more people age 65 and older in the workplace than there were in January 2007. In addition the number of low-income seniors at risk of becoming homeless has increased 140 percent since January 2008, according to Experience Works national client data.    

Metzler said the situation for older people seeking jobs is made more difficult by the large number of people of all ages who need to find work. In January 2009, there were 1.48 million Americans age 55 and older unemployed and looking for work, up 70 percent from January 2008.

"Finding a job is especially difficult for older people who may have been out of the job search process for 20 or 30 years and are not familiar with current résumé styles and applying for jobs online. Also, older job seekers may lack technical and computer skills required in today's workplace," said Metzler "With the additional money provided through the stimulus program, we will be able to help more older workers re-tool and re-enter the workforce."

U. S. residents who are 55 years of age or older who want to see if they qualify for SCSEP should contact Experience Works at 866-397-9757 or visit http://www.experienceworks.org.

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Claudia Bohn
Experience Works
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