Seniors asked to apply

James McGrath Special to the Star-Herald, Special to The County
17 years ago

I’m a senior, over age 63, and I recently found something rather refreshing in my local newspaper. It was an ad from a company encouraging seniors to apply for a customer service position.        I have often wondered what a senior-friendly business is; I think I found a senior-friendly business. I wish I lived closer to the business because I would probably do business with this company if for no other reason than it encouraged someone like me to apply for a position. In other words, when I go to this business I’m going to see someone who has a little gray hair. I’m going to be greeted by someone who probably has good customer service skills and someone who will take pleasure remembering my name and growing a relationship.
This year the Maine Jobs Council initiated the “Silver Collar Employer Awards” to recognize employers in Maine whose policies and practices match the needs of mature employees. These businesses capture the skills and experience, the strong work ethic and the flexibility and enthusiasm of older workers. One of the businesses honored was Smythe’s IGA. In addition AARP presented its Best Employers for Workers Over 50 award in Chicago and a well-known Maine business was a recipient.
Some of these award-winning companies offer opportunities for job sharing, job coaching, job rotation, flex time, training, telecommuting, peer mentoring and family leave. These options allow older workers to succeed and feel part of the workplace family.
How do we find senior-friendly employers? You might want to ask a fellow ‘senior’ that is still employed about their workplace. When you get your car serviced, notice the seniors that transport people back to their job while their car is cared for. Your local supermarket is always looking for people that can work flexible schedules. Your local hardware stores, hospitals, nursing homes, convenience stores, gift shops, book stores and other Main Street shops in your town are all looking for part-time and full-time help. If you were an educator, physician, accountant or an attorney in your previous life and you want to do something to stay active in a different field, the opportunities are there.
CareerCenters provide career counseling and assessments to help determine what type of work you are suited for. They offer assistance with resumes and interviewing skills in addition to sponsoring job clubs and job fairs.
If you need computer training, the Adult Education programs are accessible days and nights and your local Agency on Aging may have a computer lab where they offer instruction. Perhaps a grandchild might be skilled enough to help you get started. The shop that sold you your computer may have a list of people to assist you with hooking up to the Internet and some basic instruction. In addition, most public libraries have computers you can use at their site.
If you need to take courses to get recertified, check out the local community college. Sometimes the community college has scholarships for non-traditional students. In addition, you have senior college programs that are operating throughout the state.
Women, Work & Community is another excellent resource in your area that can assist you with courses and counseling. They assist both women and men.
There is a training program for people 55 and over that meet the income guidelines of the program. Seniors are placed in local non-profit locations to do a community service activity in return for valuable training. This program is sponsored by the United States Department of Labor and is called the Senior Community Service Employment Program. SCSEP pays the current state minimum wage for approximately 20 hours per week of community service. The goal of the program is to find full- or part-time employment. In Aroostook County the SCSEP is operated by the Aroostook County Action Program, the Presque Isle CareerCenter, Training & Development Corp. and the National ABLE Network.
There are other programs like the Senior Companion Program, the Foster Grandparent Program and the Americorps Vista Program to name a few. You can obtain information about these programs from the Aroostook Agency on Aging.
These are all senior-friendly opportunities and you are encouraged to contact any of the above agencies to see what’s available.
    James McGrath is the program coordinator for the state SCSEP operated through the DHHS, Office of Elder Services. E-mail address: james.mcgrath@maine.gov, phone 800-262-2232 or  TTY 800-606-0215.