As a relatively new executive director in the nonprofit world, I remember needing help in the office. I was a one-woman show for a newly-developed organization – receptionist, fundraiser, marketing/PR guru, convener, volunteer recruiter, board organizer, and the list went on and on. As you might imagine, it was very difficult to get to the strategic organizational goals that I really needed to on a daily basis because I had to do the smaller tasks that led up to the larger tasks. It seemed impossible and I quickly became overwhelmed. Enter in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). When I learned about that program, it was as if the sky opened up and I heard the Hallelujah Chorus stream from the sky. I immediately applied and was able to have a very talented senior assigned to my agency as an administrative assistant trainee. That person learned from me the skills that she needed, and I received much-needed administrative assistance from her.
SCSEP is a federally-funded job training program for low-income seniors, who need to get back into the workforce. The program pays qualified seniors to get the skills that they need to make them more marketable, and then works side by side with them to help them find employment. SCSEP participants acquire the needed skills by providing community service in nonprofit agencies and public entities. The nonprofits I have managed have been the recipient of that community service on several occasions. I was able to partner with my local SCSEP office again a few years later, when I was managing another nonprofit. We were excited to have another talented administrative assistant trainee assigned to our office. Our organization ended up hiring her and she continues to be employed by that organization to this day.
I share my experiences with SCSEP because very often those of us in nonprofit management aren’t aware of the valuable people resources that exist through SCSEP, and older workers in general. Did you know that employers rate older workers high on characteristics such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance, and punctuality? Thanks, Department of Labor for highlighting that. You may also be aware that here in the United States we are undergoing a demographic shift as it relates to older Americans and the workplace. The average and median age of the U.S. population is rising, and the composition of the workforce with it. By 2020, it is estimated that workers 55 and over will make up 25% of the U.S. civilian labor force, up from 13% in 2000 (Department of Labor). So, as you evaluate the organizational needs that you have and the skill-set that you want in your next employee, don’t forget about the older worker. You won’t be sorry.