Celebrate National Employ Older Workers Week

By Debbie Edmonds, GII older worker services program director

Celebrate National Employ Older Workers Week (NEOWW) across the nation with organizations like Goodwill®, that are helping older workers break through barriers to become a valuable asset to the workforce. America’s aging workforce is working longer as life expectancies grow, retirement plans shrink, and work becomes less physically demanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 23.3 percent of adults over age 65 in 2028 are expected to continue working compared with 12 percent in 1998.

In recognition of the vital role of older workers in this growing workforce across the nation, NEOWW is held annually the last full week of September. For 2019, the theme is Go for the Gold! NEOWW also highlights the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the nation’s oldest program to provide on-the-job skills training at nonprofits and government agencies to help individuals 55 and older with limited financial resources to find employment. Seventeen local Goodwill organizations throughout New Mexico, Washington, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia are SCSEP subgrantees for Goodwill Industries International, providing skill training to 3600 older job seekers annually.

The SCSEP experience can lead to permanent employment, like Lucien who was hired by Goodwill Industries of Kentucky in one of its retail stores. Lucien had suffered a stroke and lost his job in construction. He had to relearn to talk and walk, eventually enrolling in SCSEP. With a strong work ethic and a winning personality, Lucien was a good fit with the retail store where he received training and was eventually hired. In Goodwill Industries of Michiana (South Bend, IN), Tim enrolled in SCSEP and was placed in training at the local American Job Center. He noticed a job at a local Home Depot Center that interested him. South Bend Goodwill staff encouraged him to apply for the job and he was soon hired. He shared that he has an opportunity to participate in the management training program.

Just like Lucien and Tim, Goodwill organizations can provide training for older workers at Goodwill career centers and retail stores through SCSEP as a host agency. SCSEP providers in every state are found on careeronestop.org. SCSEP prepares older workers to become job ready and available to meet the needs of employers. The benefits of older workers include they strengthen diversity, demonstrate loyalty, have a strong work ethic and provide an emotional resilience. Hire an older worker! Go for the Gold!

When you donate and shop at your local Goodwill, you help individuals in your community reach their full potential through the power of work. In fact, 87 cents of every dollar you spend in our retail stores and through shopgoodwill.com® and other e-commerce platforms is reinvested in your community to create employment placement, job training and career support services. Find the location closest to you or make a monetary donation to show your support.