Goodwill’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a community service and work-based job training program for adults who are ages 55 and over. In January 2020, Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana was serving more than 250 SCSEP participants who were earning money while learning new skills, mastering job search techniques and building work experience to obtain employment, all with the support of a SCSEP guide.
Not much has changed since then.
Even with the outbreak of COVID-19, Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana’s SCSEP continues to support and connect with participants — from a safe distance.
“In early March, we got word from Goodwill Industries International that SCSEP participants were not to return to their host agencies for on-the-job training to ensure their health and safety are prioritized,” said Kris Green, SCSEP manager at Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana. “To continue supporting the participants, Goodwill developed an emergency paid leave that allows participants to continue to receive income during this unprecedented pandemic.”
A team of eight SCSEP staff members work closely with participants who are seeking to improve their job readiness skills and eventually obtain employment. Typically, Goodwill will work one-on-one with participants to help them learn and practice new skills. From there, SCSEP guides will find a placement with a local host agency for each participant to learn real work experience that leads to regular employment.
When stay-at-home orders began due to the coronavirus, SCSEP adjusted. One-on-one meetings became video and phone calls; on-site job training carried on through homework assignments mailed out each week.
“To continue supporting participant goals, our team contacts each SCSEP participant at least once each week,” said Green. “The new communication approaches have actually allowed us to get to know each person in deep and meaningful ways.”
Homework assignments are mailed out each week since not every participant has access to technology. Assignments are designed to help individuals increase their job readiness skills and include tasks related to developing a resume, completing an application, interviewing techniques, mastering soft skill development, as well as handling stress and providing social-emotional supports during the stay-at-home order.
“Once homework is completed, our guides contact the participants to review and discuss together,” said Green. “The response has been really positive. Our clients want to continue working and seem to enjoy moving their progress along through the assignments.”