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Hiring Hoosiers: Goodwill program helps the seniors train for new jobs during pandemic

Posted at 7:25 AM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 19:37:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Hiring Hoosiers connects people of all ages, to job and training opportunities in our community and a few years ago, we introduced you to the Goodwill program for senior citizens.

Now that the pandemic has changed the job market, I went back to Goodwill to see how they’re helping more of the older population get back to work.

At the Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, you’ll find older Hoosiers, like Clarence Edward Gibbs.

His laughter is contagious, and he says so is the positivity from the staff at Goodwill, who helped him through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

“Genuinely friendly and kind, and I just love it,” said Gibbs.

Through SCSEP, Hoosiers 55 and older can apply to receive training and develop the skills they need to get back to work. The program includes soft skills workshops, practice interviews, and resumes. Gibbs said it helps an underestimated age group find life fulfillment.

“I say that you’re vintaged and you’re ready to explore new things,” he said.

At 70 years old, Gibbs said he was ready to learn new skills to make a career shift. Through SCSEP, he pursued his new goal and trained with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“I like working with a computer,” Gibbs said.

The EEOC is a partner agency with the program and that training opened the door for him to get a job working with computers, in his new security role.

It’s breaking the cycle for unemployed older Hoosiers.

“A lot of them are really intelligent and they lose their skill set, by not exercising it. And that’s one good thing I can say about Goodwill. Whatever your skill set is, you can come here and exercise and perfect it,” Gibbs said.

According to AARP, the unemployment rate for people who are 55 and older hit a high in April 2020, at more than 13-percent and SCSEP is helping fix that.

Right now 210 seniors are enrolled in the SCEP program, across Central Indiana.

Kris Green, the SCSEP manager, said the pandemic has made the program even more important.

“If COVID has shown us nothing else, it is that we need to have computer skills,” Green said.

The program does not provide training in only technology, SCSEP has about 85 partner agencies, ranging from local non-for-profits to government agencies and schools.

“We’re trying to work with our partners, agencies, and employers to say ‘hey, we have got some great folks here, that would be of value to you,” Green said.

Green said they’re seeing success, with more seniors gain economic self-sufficiency.

“Oh my gosh, are you kidding? We ring bells, when people get jobs, because it’s exciting,” Green said.

The excitement is justified. It’s a program helping the older population overcome the age barrier, showing everyone’s value in the Hoosier work force, no-matter the age.

“It’s for all people, Goodwill for all people,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said thanks to SCSEP, he now knows how to conduct a background check, research, and do everything he needs for his job. He puts it as going from zero-percent computer skills to 80% computer skills.

Now I dug into the program more for you. There are requirements to qualify for it. Besides being 55 or older, you must be unemployed and meet a certain income threshold.

SCSEP is a federal program, funded through the Older Americans Act. That means people are accepted to the program based on priority. Veterans are first and Second Chance Citizens are second. Those sometimes include ex-offenders. Plus, people with disabilities, or literacy issues are also prioritized for the program.

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