This past January I received an email with a question from a 59-year-old woman who lost her job as an office assistant after being with the same company for over 15 years. In short, the email read, “I am so depressed and don’t know where to turn. I do not have much money, I am a widow and now find myself competing against younger people with more up-to-date skills and a more robust and current resume,” she wrote.
“What can I do to compete? Please help!”
Once a loyal and dedicated employee, overnight she became a statistic. She was now one of the many older adults, age 55 or higher who are now job searching, perhaps for the first time in many years, and have not kept up her skills, that is why I wrote this article Job Training Programs for Older Adults, which something that many will encounter in their journey.
There are many theories and articles on the subject of older workers facing similar job search circumstances in today’s world. Some have not been in the job search market for years and have skills that are behind the times. These articles fail to show you what you should do to make yourself more likely to find employment and stay relevant in today’s job market and able to remain a valuable employee by showing your employer that you are just as talented as others.
Why Training Is Important for Older Workers
Whether you are searching for a new position or are currently gainfully employed, it is extremely important to stay up with the times and remain relevant skill-wise – not doing so could put you at risk of losing your job to someone who has.
Worse yet, if you are out of work and are job searching, you are not going to be able to successfully compete with those who have kept their skills and industry knowledge fresh and up to date – after all, would go to a doctor who has not kept up with modern medicine or new technologies and diseases?
New studies show that older working adults can learn new skills and that the effectiveness of training on them to having a higher chance to retain employment and stay just as productive as their younger colleagues or be able to find new opportunities for older workers are all having positive results.
Training can avoid skill obsolescence, help introduce older workers to the importance of new technology-based occupations, and help them embrace change and not be afraid of learning new things – just like those younger.
Can Training Be Effective for Older Workers?
Many universities and private research think tanks show outcomes that training older employees indeed is effective. The only factor is that older workers tend to do better with live classroom learning environments, where they can ask questions and receive almost immediate and personalized feedback and/ or guidance, rather than with computer-based learning sessions, which tend to be less social and more robotic.
The reason for this could be that we as humans all learn differently, and many of us grew up in times when there was no computer-based technology in teaching. However, older workers do just fine with a more interactive medium like Zoom or Team video conference once they understand how to use the technology.
In addition, training older workers greatly benefit individuals, employers, and society. Case studies on the effectiveness of training on the ability to stay employed and productivity of older workers show a very positive impact and that learning for older adults indicates that they are just as able to acquire new skills as those younger.
Training can avoid skill obsolescence and respond to the growing importance of technology-based occupations.
Job Training Programs for Older Adults
For the older workers looking for job training programs, either because they want to work, or to stay relevant by learning new skills in their current careers, or just to stay up to date skill-wise or maybe because they need to support themselves and/ or supplement retirement – there are many training programs that older workers can utilize.
For the money, my main recommendation would be Community Colleges which are a GREAT resource for older workers as they are much less expensive than private skill-driven organizations or big fancy Universities.
Community Colleges provide learning programs targeted specifically towards the “over 55” and are usually taught at a level that is more appealing to an older worker either because the schedule fits a working adult’s life, has offerings that are geared for adults, and are usually located closer to your home or office since many have multiple campuses.
At local Community Colleges, new adult students can learn new skills, train for specific careers, improve their technical knowledge and improve their computer skills which will increase their marketability, all while learning and growing new skills.
Managed Online Colleges for Working Adults – Work at Your Pace Learning Programs
Returning to school while remaining in the workforce is not easy, studies have found the cost and the educational strain (particularly on your family or even your job) to be overwhelming for some. They found that the stress of trying to keep pace with the learning module, any online class group activities (such as group reports, projects, or presentations), and staying productive at work, can be too much for some to handle.
After all, the fact that you paid more money (compared to community colleges) for these usually more advanced programs is enough to make anyone stress out. However, many have handled these more advanced programs very well; all the studies for the most part agree that if one has been an active learner for most of their career, they have a far better chance of success than someone who has not been an active learner.
Tips On Finding a Program That’s Right for You
- Compare based on tuition, acceptance rate, and other factors that interest you
- Research and compare career opportunities
- Request more information
As stated above older workers who become students face some unique challenges. They often have to manage the demands and responsibilities of paying bills, perhaps managing a family, and working full time, along with all the requirements and deadlines of college demands.
Some online colleges to consider (these have courses geared for older adult students) where you can earn your Associate, Bachelor’s, or Graduate Degree Online are programs offered by Keiser University, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Phoenix, and Strayer University are just a few of the many great options.
I review many such options in greater detail here and make some recommendations.
Amazon has many amazing books, programs, and training materials that you can use in your job search – here are some tremendous materials and additional resources available to you at Amazon!
Government, Community, and Other FREE Job Training Programs for Older Adults
There are many programs and training programs offered by local, state, and the federal government, many of which are free or require pennies to take advantage of and join. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) provides information on training programs and other services that are available to assist workers who have been laid off or are about to be laid off.
These programs are a great resource for older workers as many are geared towards learning new skills, learning new technologies, or learning new computer programs and skills (some even offer one-on-one job search and career counseling) – all of which will make you marketable and relevant in today’s evolving workplace.
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
SCSEP is a community service and work-based job-training program for older Americans. Authorized by the Older Americans Act, the program provides training for low-income, unemployed seniors.
SCSEP participants gain work experience in a variety of community service activities at non-profit and public facilities, including schools, hospitals, day-care centers, and senior centers. The program provides over 40 million community service hours to public and non-profit agencies, allowing them to enhance and provide needed services.
Participants work an average of 20 hours a week and are paid the highest federal, state, or local minimum wage. This training serves as a bridge to unsubsidized employment opportunities for participants.
For more information on SCSEP programs in your area, call the toll-free helpline at 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627).
Many charitable organizations make it their goal to help displaced older workers find legitimate employment. Experience Works is a non-profit organization that works with seniors who need help with job training and job placement. This group believes that there are many advantages to employers who hire senior workers and work in conjunction with over 400 employers in the United States. As a non-profit organization, it is funded by grants and private donations.
Veteran Organizations Adult Training Programs
The government offers many great programs to help vets train for, find and keep civilian jobs. There are many programs and websites that can help you explore careers, find training, and find jobs.
These programs can help you:
- Assess your job skills and see how they apply to civilian jobs
- Learn about education and training options like certifications, apprenticeships, and licensing
- Build your job-search skills
- Find government benefits including unemployment compensation for ex-service members
To learn more contact: VA.gov’s Careers and Employment website
Department of Labor Adult Training Programs
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) provides information on training programs and other services that are available to assist workers who have been laid off or are about to be laid off. For a list of programs nearest you, contact an American Job Center or call ETA’s toll-free help line at 1-877-US-2JOBS.
Services are designed to meet local needs and may vary from state to state. Some services for dislocated workers have eligibility requirements. Check with your State Dislocated Worker Unit for details.
Research on learning in older adults shows that we can obtain and acquire new skills. Further, studies on the effectiveness of training on the ability to stay employed and productive for older workers find very positive effects.
Training can avoid skill obsolescence and respond to the growing importance of technology-based occupations.
Keep your skills updated and stay on top of the new technologies and new tools that are now common in today’s workplace and our everyday lives. Things like FaceTime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video calling software are here to stay, as are productivity software programs from MS Excel to PowerPoint and many, many others; so, embrace them, learn them, and do not fear them.
Lastly, while one could assume that most of this article was talking to those who worked in an office or other professional environments, so let me clarify, staying relevant, and not becoming outdated applies to ALL WORKERS, from someone answering the phones to a skilled crane or heavy equipment operator, to a warehouse worker, electrician or whatever trade or profession you are in – STAY UP ON YOUR TRADE AND THE TOOLS OF YOUR PROFESSION!
Questions? Is there something specific I can help you with?
This site’s success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors open.
I invite you all to share your stories of challenges and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped – so please add your comment or insight!