Alice Isidro's unemployment checks were nearly exhausted. As was her self-confidence.
In April, when the 59-year-old Tampa resident lost her job as a data entry operator, she transformed from a diligent employee into a statistic: one of the 8.3 percent of Floridians 55 and older who are seeking a job.
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"I was depressed and didn't know where to turn. I didn't have a lot of savings and was competing against younger people with more up-to-date skills and better résumés (pdf)," Isidro said. "There were some horrific moments."
Her salvation? The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which helps low-income job seekers age 55 and older get paid on-the-job training; improve interviewing (pdf) and technical skills; write winning résumés; and find jobs.
The U.S. Department of Labor funds the program, administered in Florida by the AARP Foundation and other agencies. The more than 30 SCSEP sites provided free assistance to about 4,000 Floridians January through September.
"I am learning things that will help me in my next job and put me ahead of other candidates," said Isidro, who has worked part time at SCSEP's Tampa office since July while training to be a payroll clerk and looking for a full-time job.
It takes longer to find a job
"The days of losing a job, coming home and picking up the paper and finding another job in the classifieds are over," said Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida state director.
Unemployed people 55 and older tend to be out of work longer than their younger counterparts (57.7 weeks compared with 37.8 weeks, on average). One in three is jobless for more than a year, the federal government says.
That's the situation for many applicants, said Maxine A. Haynes, project director at SCSEP's Tampa office, one of the AARP Foundation-administered sites.
"Their biggest concern is that they aren't being hired because of their age," (pdf) she said. "We help them update their skills and résumés and instill confidence."
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