INDIANAPOLIS — RTV6 launched the Hiring Hoosiers project nearly a year ago, aiming to connect people in our state to career opportunities and to highlight and overcome some of the barriers keeping prospective workers from good-paying jobs.
We are highlighting a program helping some of our older neighbors, who want to work, but may have some trouble removing the barriers that come with ageism.
Mary Jones, 67, is an administrative assistant to the executive administrative assistant at the main offices of Goodwill of Southern & Central Indiana.
She has busy days with big responsibility.
"It's just helped me to blossom more," she says, "My life is a lot better than when I was just sitting at home."
Jones had a long career, working for the State of Indiana employment department.
Things took a turn for Jones when a severe skin problem developed into a severe disability.
She had to step away from the workforce for years to fight for her wellbeing.
Eventually, Jones overcame the illness and wanted to get out of the house.
"It was hard to stay at home because that was not my kind of life. You're bored," she says.
Once her health battle was over, Jones was 56.
She felt at a disadvantage, trying to re-enter the workforce, until she heard about an empowering resource offered by Goodwill, called the Senior Community Service Employment Program, SCSEP.
Kent Kramer, President and CEO of Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, says the program connects individuals 55 and older with job training opportunities, which often leads to full-time employment.
Jones says that is exactly what the program did for her. "It gave me the confidence to go back to work," she says, "It boned me up on my computer skills, which went lacking for a long time."
SCSEP, which has helped more than 1,000 people over the last several years, focuses on people over the age of 55, assessing their skills and filling in the gaps with new work-place skills,s while honing their strengths so they can re-enter the labor market.
SCSEP even offers paid, on-the-job training.
The program then places seniors with local non-profits or government agencies, daycares, schools, or libraries.
Goodwill executives say SCSEP is a win-win for older workers, retirees, and businesses.
Goodwill sits down with employers to listen to their employment needs and then provides specialized training to the participants in SCSEP.
It's a program removing a barrier for older Hoosiers.
"What we see are individuals who have a really strong work ethic," Kramer says, "They show up to work. And we are really pleased with working with all levels of individuals."
Goodwill says hiring older workers helps companies serve a diverse customer base.
This program got Mary Jones out of the house and into a living-wage position.
She is putting her new skills to work and says she feels very blessed and very happy.