55 and Thriving: Helping Seniors Get Good Jobs – 2012

Overview

This 2012 presentation, from the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) for the National Council on Aging (NCOA), updates the status of various pilot projects aimed at increasing employment opportunities for seniors through training in health services. This presentation is based on the white paper, “Securing Healthcare Jobs for Mature Workers” 2011.  Both the presentation and white paper focus on programs that match employers with new employees, incentives for hiring and training older workers, and hiring for specific industry segments. Local governments and leaders should carefully consider the success of these projects as potential opportunities to foster partnerships with local businesses in recruiting, training and employing older workers.

Key Points

As the population ages, more businesses will need to examine how to find qualified employees within an older demographic. This is particularly true as “more industries and regions face skill and labor shortages due to demographic changes” (page 5). These resources focus upon new initiatives to train seniors and match them with local employers in the health services industry.

Other presentation and paper highlights include:

Most existing job training for seniors focus on a “train and pray” approach. Essentially, this means the older worker is trained irrespective of local business sector need, and with no placement or employment program to provide actual employment. SCSEP pilot projects focus on a “sector strategy” approach. This involves targeting a local sector of business that is growing and in need of workers (in this case, health services), partnering with local employers by creating intern programs for those receiving training, and then hiring based on performance.

Pilot programs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York all target the healthcare services sector, deemed to be fairly secure since the health industry is expected to grow as the U.S. continues to age. Also, employment wage and salary within the healthcare industry is expected to increase by 27 percent annually through 2014 (page 2, Securing Healthcare Jobs for Mature Workers (2011), providing economic stability.

The 2012 presentation is an update on those three pilot projects, as well as on what the SCSEP has learned so far. The SCSEP partnered with ParaProfessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), an organization providing training in long-term healthcare services. Initially, SCSEP created a program called Direct Care, whose original intent was to certify Direct Care Workers (DCWs) trained by PHI. After discussions with partnering employers, SCSEP discovered that DCW was a certification title not well known within the industry, rendering any prospective graduates unemployable. As such, SCSEP changed the designation to include: Certified Home Health Aide, Certified Nursing Assistant and Home Companion. The result of the SCSEP program was the placement of 119 certified senior workers in the healthcare industry by employers who were able to “try before buying” via an internship program.

How to Use

Local governments and community planners looking for ways to create public/private sector partnerships in a manner that helps their older adult population maintain economic self-sufficiency should consider the implications of this presentation and white paper. Consider implementing the SCSEP program in your own area and conduct an analysis of which industries/business clusters in your area could benefit from this approach.

View full report: 55 and Thriving: Helping Seniors Get Good Jobs – 2012 (PDF – 600 KB)

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