Goodwill seeking older workers in Bell, Harlan counties

Published 2:39 pm Friday, August 28, 2020

As the population ages, older Americans will play an increasingly important role in our economy and America’s leadership in the world marketplace. By 2020, more than 40 percent of Americans over the age of 55 will be employed, making up a quarter of the total U.S. labor force according to the National Council on Aging.

The term retirement is quickly becoming outdated as Americans live and work longer, yet the rapidly growing sector of older workers often faces challenges to employment, especially in a competitive marketplace. Goodwill is committed to helping older job seekers find meaningful work and to educating potential employers on how to leverage older workers’ skills and experiences. Research shows that older employees are motivated to exceed employer expectations, exhibit a strong work ethic, feel company loyalty and demonstrate a desire to mentor younger workers. The Committee on Economic Development indicates that employers rate older workers high on characteristics such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance and punctuality.

In 2016, Goodwill Industries International received a $16.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide critical job training and employment services through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Through the program, 20 autonomous, community-based Goodwill® organizations across the United States, including Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, has been helping older job seekers learn new job skills while receiving paid training at public and nonprofit organizations such as housing agencies, food banks, libraries, schools, senior centers and child care centers. The goal is that they will take the skills they learn in the program to gain employment in the private or public sector for which wages, or wages and tips, are paid that equal or exceed the federal hourly minimum wage.

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When older job seekers come to Goodwill, job coaches deliver thorough needs assessments, create individual employment plans, administer basic skills classes and assist in job training, placement and eventual transition to non-subsidized employment.

Goodwill Industries SCSEP helps people like Toni Patterson, who had to leave her job of 25 years when the sole responsibility for raising four grandchildren fell to her.  Struggling for years to make ends meet with the burden of caring for young children on little to no income, she knew she had to find a way to build a better life when it became necessary for her to also raise her great granddaughter. Because she was out of the workforce for so long, she found it difficult to find employment. When the Virginia Employment Commission referred her to Goodwill, Toni was enrolled in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), where she is now working and gaining the skills she needs to be able to find stable employment. Toni says, “I just can’t express how grateful I am because the SCSEP program has allowed my great-granddaughter and I to stay where we are. Today, I’m secure, I’m confident… I’m independent.”

Goodwill’s SCSEP effort has helped more than 8,502 older adults in local communities since 2006. To

To find out more about Goodwill and the services it provides for older job seekers, visit the Goodwill Industries of Kentucky website For more information on local SCSEP opportunities in Harlan and Bell Counties, call 606-567-5611, 844-439-3977 or email