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Older Oregonians Re-entering Workforce Get Training, Job Support


Wednesday, July 27, 2022   

Older Oregonians looking to reenter the workforce face a number of barriers. An organization in the state is helping them with training and a network of partnerships.

At Easterseals Oregon, the Senior Community Service Employment Program trains people age 55 and over who need a job.

Michelle Bowers, assistant director of the program, said older folks need services for reasons including homelessness, a medical crisis and losing a spouse who may have earned the bulk of their income.

"Folks come to us to get retrained and learn new skills, and boost their confidence and build a network," Bowers observed. "And we retrain them, and we send them out into the community and internships to do that."

Easterseals Oregon partners with nonprofits and state and federal government agencies in 30 counties across the state. The pandemic has affected older people in the workforce, but a survey found there was an 8% increase in Oregon workers over 55 between August 2020 and 2021.

Patricia Robinson, a Eugene resident in her 70s who received training through Easterseals Oregon, said she was struggling to pay her bills and, after working temporary gigs, wanted to find a lasting job.

"I started with not even knowing how to turn on and off a computer," Robinson acknowledged. "I can now do, into the computer, any type of programming, any type of demand that is required from the company or the training process I'm in."

Robinson now works as a job coach at Lane Community College. She added there are supports out there for older people, but understands it can be hard to reach out.

"Going alone is the scariest part, but you're not," Robinson stressed. "And just take one step, that's all you need. Go one step forward, and you will see there is someone there to help you and to get what you need."

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates one in four workers will be 55 or older by 2030.

Disclosure: Easterseals contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities, Livable Wages/Working Families, Mental Health, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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