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Money April 2012

Dollar Sense

Looking for Part-Time Work?

By Teresa Ambord

SCSEP pays the wages, but after the initial training period, some of these seniors are hired by the charities they trained with. Some go to work for other charities where they will work for several months while acquiring new skills. But the ultimate goal is for the seniors to be placed in good jobs in the public or private sector.

Jobs in the not-for-profit world are a strong possibility. These agencies constantly have a lack of help coupled with too little money to pay for new employees. A long-standing federal program seeks to fill that lack by hiring older workers (defined as age 55 and up). It’s called the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and is funded through the Department of Labor.

“Over 30,000 nonprofit programs and local government agencies host at least one SCSEP participant each year. They tell us that without these older workers, they would be less able to serve their communities,” explained Tony Sarmiento, executive director of Senior Service America, which currently operates SCSEP in 16 states.

Participants work 15 to 20 hours a week in positions like these: library assistants, couriers, landscapers, computer operators, drivers, home health aides, sales, receptionists, teaching assistants, groundskeepers, childcare workers… the list is endless.

The pay is federal minimum wage (currently $7.25/hour) or state, or local minimum wage, whichever is highest. SCSEP pays the wages, but after the initial training period, some of these seniors are hired by the charities they trained with. Some go to work for other charities where they will work for several months while acquiring new skills. But the ultimate goal is for the seniors to be placed in good jobs in the public or private sector.

 

Where Would You Work?

Jobs are generally in community service facilities such as day care centers, senior centers, governmental agencies, schools, hospitals, libraries, landscaping centers.

Participants may be given short-term training prior to their job assignments, which are customized for seniors and focus on developing skills to make you job ready. In addition to learning while working there may be training through lectures, seminars, one-on-one instruction, training programs or even community college classes. Some jobs through SCSEP require specific occupational skills, including jobs in high growth industries like health care and computers. Training in those areas may be provided. Finally, you may receive on-the-job training from for-profit employers who may receive partial reimbursement of the costs involved.

 

Who Qualifies?

  • You must be at least 55 years old, though priority is given to those 60 and over.
  • And, you must have family income of no more than 25% over the federal poverty level (in
  • 2011, that was $10,890 in a household of one, and $14,710 in a household of two (in all states except for Alaska and Hawaii).
  • Also given priority are veterans and the qualified spouses of veterans, certain minorities, and those with the greatest economic needs and special employment needs.

 

How SCSEP Began

The SCSEP is an offspring of former President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. As part of that war, Lady Bird Johnson suggested that the government begin a program that would provide work opportunities for the nation’s older farmers who were low-income and/or retired. Originally it was called Green Thumb, because it utilized the expertise of farmers to beautify America’s highways. This program, which at first was limited to four states, grew into the SCSEP, which serves all states and territories as a major federal workforce success story.

Even if you live in a rural or remote area, don’t assume there are no jobs available. If you have computer access, visit AARP and type in SCSEP. You can also call toll-free 1-877-US-2JOBS or TTY 1-877-889-5627.

To find the nearest organization that operates SCSEP, go to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop Web site, http://www.servicelocator.org/findbykeyword.asp, and type in your zip code and “SCSEP” or call 1-877-348-0502 or TTY 1-877-348-0501.

 

If You Are an Employer Who Wants to Learn More

Employers who have used the SCSEP report that their senior participants are experienced, mature, responsible, and talented. In general they exhibit a work ethic superior to that of other employees. Human resource managers describe their SCSEP employees as loyal and dedicated to their job and committed to quality work. They bring stability and overall, they reduce the turnover rate, which in the long-terms saves money in recruitment and training.

NOTE: SCSEP has created a helpful brochure “Employment Options: Tips for Older Job Seekers,” which you can obtain by logging onto the n4a.org Web site.


Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.


Meet Teresa