Goodwill® celebrates National Employ Older Workers Week
National Employ Older Workers Week — September 20–26, 2015 — commemorates the contributions and achievements made by U.S. employees over the age of 55. The goal is to raise awareness of this growing yet underused labor segment and develop innovative strategies to employ older workers.
When seniors come to Goodwill NYNJ, job coaches deliver a thorough needs assessment, create individual employment plans, administer basic skills classes and assist in job training placement and eventual transition to non-subsidized employment. Goodwill® is one of only 15 national nonprofit organizations authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor to administer the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) to provide assistance to older workers.
SCSEP, which was authorized by the Older Americans Act of 1965, is the only federally sponsored employment and training program targeted specifically to unemployed, individuals with low incomes, who are 55 and older. Through SCSEP, these individuals receive paid training through part-time, service-oriented positions in their communities. The program aims to promote community service while helping participants achieve fiscal self-sufficiency.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers who are 55 and older will make up one-quarter of the civilian workforce within the next five years. That’s a two-fold increase — from 13 percent — in 2000. As the population ages, older workers become a larger portion of the labor force. Additionally, more Americans are choosing to remain employed longer and retire later than the once-standard age of 65. As these changes occur, employers must evolve to accommodate shifting labor force demographics, while older workers need to keep their skills up-to-date.
Mildred “Millie” Marquis came to Goodwill NYNJ almost two decades ago to work as Switchboard Operator at the Astoria headquarters. She was referred to our agency in early 1997 by a not-for-profit community-based organization that places older Queens residents in employment.
Millie needed a new job after working at a dry cleaner’s for almost a quarter of a century. “Though I loved that job because I could speak with people, standing on my feet at work for twelve hours every day, six days a week, became harder,” she remembers. “I was getting too old for that.”
When she came to Goodwill NYNJ, she requested to work as a switchboard operator. “I knew of the Goodwill stores,” recalls Ms. Marquis, “but I had no idea Goodwill had so many different programs. Perhaps I love my job so much because I got what I asked for,” says Millie.
In the eighteen years Millie has worked at the reception of Goodwill NYNJ’s headquarters, she has seen lots of changes in staff, programs and services. She first began working in a back room in the Work Center for Industrial Contracts. Then the switchboard was moved to its present location near a new waiting area in the front.
Staff and program participants all know Millie as one of Goodwill’s most energetic and good-humored employees. “I am probably one of the oldest Goodwill NYNJ employees, and I love my job because it keeps me busy. I would be bored otherwise,” confides Ms. Marquis, 79, showing her typical positive New York attitude.
“Do the best you can at your job, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have mine,” Millie advises new Goodwill employees. Laughing, she concludes: “Goodwill has been very good to me; they took me in like a stray cat, and they will have to throw me out!”
Since Goodwill’s inception, the revenue generated from the sale of donated items has helped fund job training programs and community services, including those that help older Americans find meaningful work.
To learn more about turning your donations of stuff into job opportunities for older workers, visit the Goodwill NYNJ website