In the United States, there are laws against job discrimination based on age. Cases of discrimination can be difficult to prove, but there’s some anecdotal indication that older workers are finding themselves frozen out of an already tough job market.
Career advisors are now even giving pointers on tweaking résumés to downplay too many years of job experience. If you’re old enough to remember the disco era firsthand, you may find yourself being hustled out of job interviews.
There’s a program to help you, co-funded by a government grant and by funding from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The program is called Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), and its goal is to help job seekers over 55 years old find work. The government grant funding helps SCSEP participants by providing job training and helping with job placement. Because this is government grant-funded, that means that SCSEP is completely free to those who qualify.
To qualify for the SCSEP job training and job placement program, you must be already unemployed, be age 55 or older, live in a county where there is an AARP SCSEP office, and you must be income-eligible. Not all of your income is counted into the calculation, so it’s worth checking out even if you think you might not meet the income requirements.
The goals of the SCSEP are to provide assistance to improve job skills, gain work experience, and increase self-confidence. The specific activities that this government grant is funding are professional assessment of existing job skills and interests, assistance with setting job goals, creation of an individual employment plan, help with locating job training for new skills, résumé assistance, tips for a successful job interview, referrals to job clubs and workshops, job leads, follow-ups to check progress, worker’s compensation insurance, a yearly physical exam, and a free one-year membership in AARP.
As with any worthwhile government grant, the value derived from this program will likely exceed its initial cost. We’re living longer lifespans, so age 55 is too soon to be excluded from the job market. It’s generally recognized too that it’s beneficial to have a variety of skills, strengths, and experience levels in a workplace. Claiming that one age group is preferable to another in the workplace is counter-productive and usually wrong-headed. Sure, there’s a difference in the technologies, corporate cultures, and work values from one generation to the next, but the differences can be complementary instead of competitive, to make a diverse and well-rounded workplace. Not all hiring managers have the foresight to recognize this, so this government grant-funded program will help change their minds.
If you’re interested in what SCSEP may have to offer you so that you can get back to work, here’s what to do. First, check to see if you reside in a county that’s eligible. You can get contact information to inquire by visiting the US Department of Labor website (www.doleta.gov) or by contacting AARP. Don’t worry, though. IF your county isn’t on the list, you’ll be directed to find a SCSEP office through another sponsor.
You’ll then contact your local SCSEP office by phone, or in person. They’re staffed by friendly employees to help you, courtesy of government grant funding. One of the staff members will first ask you some questions to determine if you’re eligible for the job training and job placement services.
Here’s something to keep in mind. If you’re participating in other government grant-funded programs (e.g., SSI/SSD or Medicaid), then joining the SCSEP program may affect your benefits. However, your SCSEP staff member will help you determine how your current benefits may be affected, so that you won’t miss out on any government grant funding.
If you’re on the hunt for a job and can benefit from this program, then the best of success to you in finding good, secure job that you can call yours for a long time.