Shades of Gray, Part 2: Training Opportunities

This article is reprinted with permission from MaineBiz. Derek Rice, author. Second of four parts.

A number of programs run by both the state and private organizations have emerged to help older workers acclimate to today’s work force, as well as help them find a good fit when seeking employment.

On the state level, the Maine Office of Elder Services offers the Senior Community Service Employment Program to help match low-income Mainers aged 55 and over with part-time community service training assignments. The goal is to assist these individuals in transitioning to unsubsidized employment.

On the private side, last July, Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. of Brunswick, along with several partners, received an approximately $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Aging Worker Initiative. The goal of the AWI program is to train workers aged 55 and older for jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries. CCWI is using the funding to prepare these workers for careers in the growing health care and green energy and construction fields. Through the National Able Network’s Job Readiness Training modules, the organization also provides work readiness training to teach older workers basic computer skills, in addition to providing guidance for returning to the workplace.

Seasoned Workforce LLC works with CCWI to implement the initiative’s programs. Dave Tomm, who operates Seasoned Workforce, has become a champion of Maine’s aging population and work force. An older worker himself, Tomm started his Rockland company in 2006, transforming what had been a program of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce into a for-profit business. From the start, his company’s mission has been “To encourage the use of the experience, motivation and reliability of seasoned workers for the benefit of business, the economy and our society.”

Through online resources and in-person forums, Tomm works to connect older job seekers — whether laid off, retired or otherwise — with businesses and staffing agencies who, he says, should definitely be interested in hiring them.

As Tomm puts it, there are many smart, business-savvy retirees living in the state who possess a lot of wisdom and business experience that could benefit companies. In some cases, he says, they are “bored out of their minds.”

Tomm knows a little something about re-entering the workforce after retirement. After 30-plus years of self-employment, he retired to Maine in 2000. He soon found the inactivity made him stir crazy and was itching to get back to work. That’s when he began volunteering with the chamber program, which eventually became Seasoned Workforce.

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