Pasco County senior citizens who are 55 or older and have been out of work for a year or more may be able to benefit from The Experience Works Community Service Employment Program.
The program is reaching out to older residents in central and eastern Pasco County who need help getting back into the work force, said Dorothy Myles, state director for Experience Works. To be eligible, applicants must have an individual income of $14,588 year or less, or $19,663 or less for a family of two.
A limited number of slots are available, but there always is turnover as people land full-time jobs, move, or exit the program for other reasons, Myles said.
Participants work for 21 hours a week, receiving the minimum wage of $7.93 an hour. By handling community service jobs, participants can update their skills and use those new skills as a springboard to land permanent jobs.
The program also helps participants pursue jobs they are interested in, Myles said.
“We assist them. This is participant driven,” she said.
The worker indicates the kind of job they’re interested in and the program seeks to help them secure it, Myles said. Some workers who begin part-time positions are hired on to handle full-time roles by the organizations that participate in the program. There also are cases when the participating organization isn’t able to hire the employee, but can alert the worker to an opportunity elsewhere.
Besides providing opportunities for workers to enhance their skills, the program also can help them in their job search and offer referrals for other services, Myles said.
Some program participants were laid off and have been unable to find a job for more than a year, while others have been out of the workforce for years, she said. Some have encountered bias against older workers.
“We do realize, too, that there is some age discrimination out there,” Myles said.
She believes misperceptions about older workers often can be overcome when an employer is able to witness an experienced person’s work ethic in action.
The program is having an enrollment fair on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Career Central, Room A, 4440 Grand Blvd., in New Port Richey.
For additional information, call (888) 859-1051, or visit www.ExperienceWorks.org.
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