Older workers bring much-needed experience, emotional intelligence, and generational diversity to our workplaces. Yet, history tells us that they will face the highest hurdles as they attempt to reenter the workforce. After the last recession, older job seekers only had a 40% chance of finding a job within 18 months. The obstacles to economic opportunity are even higher for older workers of color. The unemployment rate for Black Americans, for example, is only slightly less than the worst overall unemployment rate of 10% experienced during the Great Recession.
As older workers reenter the workforce in 2021, they will face increased competition, fewer employers, a need for different skills, and a labor system grappling with systemic racism. Our Voices Series bring their stories to life.
Mr. Ivan Brown
We begin our series with Mr. Ivan Brown, an Army Veteran who overcame several obstacles to reenter the workforce prior to COVID-19.
After three years as an Army medic, Mr. Brown returned to Baltimore and spent 40 years in health care, eventually becoming a surgical technician. When he was diagnosed with liver cancer and underwent a transplant operation, he could no longer work full-time.
Despite sustained, proactive efforts to find meaningful employment, Mr. Brown was only able to find gig positions that neither utilized his skills nor nurtured his passion for community service. His determination and resilience paid off when he eventually connected with the Center for Workforce Inclusion’s Baltimore office and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). SCSEP is the only federally-funded program specifically targeted to older adults seeking economic opportunity and training assistance.
Mr. Brown and his case advisor jointly identified a job opportunity working at his local senior center. “Since I’ve been with the SCSEP program, I’ve been able to return to a job that gives me hope and purpose,” said Mr. Brown. “I am able to do one of the things closest to my heart: serving others in my community by picking them up to bringing them to the Sandtown Senior Center. This brings me great joy.”
SCSEP provides a pathway to economic opportunity to thousands of low-income adults age 55+ each year. Participants learn and earn while working in local programs serving their community. Learn More