“We know the participants in our Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) have the potential to be great employees but not all businesses know how to tap that potential,” says Leslie E. Scheer, Executive Director of Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands (ESCCI).
During National Employ Older Workers Week, September 23 – 29, ESCCI wants to acknowledge those organizations and hiring managers with the vision and acumen to find that “great fit” among the pool of Cape and Islands seniors eager to work. Organizations that have shown themselves to be age-friendly employers by recruiting employees from the SCSEP program include Lower Cape Outreach Council, Fellowship Health Resources, Atria Senior Living, Catholic Social Services, Wingate Healthcare, Town of Yarmouth, Dennis Council on Aging, Latham Centers Inc., Cape Cod Museum of Art and ESCCI.
Adults age 55 and older make up more than 30% of the Cape’s active workforce and that’s nearly double the percentage for the rest of the country. This shouldn’t be surprising given the demographics of the region and the excellent supports for healthy aging available here. But even with this high level of workforce engagement, there are lots of active seniors who want work but struggle to find a suitable job.
That’s where the Senior Community Service Employment Program comes in. It offers income-eligible, unemployed adults 55 and older a bridge back to work by placing them into paid internships with local non-profits and government agencies, subsidized by federal funds received through Senior Service America. Through these internships, workers learn new skills and gain new confidence. Once that happens, participants are expected to transition to permanent, unsubsidized employment. This fall, there are twenty-nine SCSEP interns working at 23 agencies across the Cape and Islands including JML Care Center, Yarmouth Town Hall and the Cape Cod Wampanoag Tribal Archives.
Employers seeking to attract older workers can follow the advice of Laura Roskos, Director of the Senior Community Services Employment Program at ESCCI who suggests “emphasizing qualities such as maturity, good judgment, and experience when advertising open positions.” She has the following tips for retaining experienced talent and extending the careers of older employees:
- Cultivate a mission-driven culture. Older workers value their time and want lives filled with purpose.
- Be flexible with scheduling and benefits. Many older workers put family first and those over 65 will be enrolled in Medicare.
- Make training opportunities available to all employees, regardless of age or assumed interests.
National Employ Older Workers Week is about acknowledging and promoting the value of older workers across our nation to employers and the general public. Initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor over 50 years ago, it is celebrated during the last full week in September.
Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands, Inc. (ESCCI) is a nonprofit community-based organization dedicated to serving older adults in the twenty-two towns of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties. We are the federally designated Area Agency on Aging and the state designated Aging Services Access Point, as well as the Aging and Disability Resource Consortium for our three-county area. Since 1972, ESCCI has been a central source of information and services enabling elders to enhance their quality of life and maintain their independence. For more information, visit www.escci.org.