The last full week in September is celebrated annually as “National Employ Older Workers Week,” (#NEOWW) recognizing the vital role older workers play in the workforce. Aiming to increase awareness of this labor force and develop strategies to expand opportunities for older workers, we at the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) use this time to celebrate older workers and their contribution to the workforce in the past, the present and the future.
According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, the United States is undergoing a dramatic demographic shift. The average median age of the U.S population is rising and along with it, the composition of the workforce. In a short two years, by 2020, it is estimated that workers 55 and older will make up 25% of the U.S. civilian labor force, up from 13% in 2000. In addition, individual workers tend to remain in the workforce longer and retire later.
Individual studies show that many employers rate older workers high and show characteristics such as judgement, commitment to quality, attendance and punctuality. Given “their knowledge, their skills [and] their abilities – why not – hire an older worker!”
NAPCA is proud to empower our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older worker population by maintaining a team made up of 2/3rds workers age 55 or older. We also work to empower older workers through the management of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) which provides on-the-job skills training to individuals 55 or older with limited financial resources. Since its inception, SCSEP has helped over one million older Americans enter the workforce and gain unsubsidized long-term employment.
Meet Guo Yuan Li. Age 72, currently working at the Chinese Information and Service Center in Seattle, WA. Mr. Li shares his experience in the Senior Community Service Employment Program:
“I joined SCSEP in 2008 and learned different job-related skills for four years. SCSEP not only focuses on job training and placement for the elderly, but also cares about our wellbeing. SCSEP provides a free annual physical exam for their participants, for example.
Last year, the SCSEP director contacted different agencies to seek job opportunities for me. After his office hours, he visited different companies with me for job interviews and helped me to get hired at Chinese Information and Service Center in a part-time position that pays more than the SCSEP wage (minimum wage) and comes with partial benefits.
This not only builds up my financial foundation for my living expenses, but also gives me a sense of dignity. I hope NAPCA will continue to help more elderly [people] like me.”
Stay connected with us during the week of September 24-28, 2018 as we feature the success of SCSEP across the nation, highlight more individual stories like Guo Yuan Li and celebrate their contributions to the workforce. Employ Older Workers, Now and Forever!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.