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Local News

May 4, 2009

ECONOMY: Stimulus spending creates jobs for older workers

Older Americans looking for work, take note: Experience Works.

The federal senior citizen job training and placement program has received a funding boost. It means the Niagara County office is able to help more seniors acquire the skills they need to land part- or full-time work in a variety of settings.

Experience Works, formerly called Green Thumb, is for county residents 55 and older with limited income (no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines) and a desire to go or get back into the working world.

The program matches seniors with not-for-profit agencies where they can learn as they do: computer work, reception, clerking, child care, indoor/outdoor maintenance, et cetera. Participants are paid to learn, then when they’re ready to go out and compete in the open market, Experience Works assists their jobs searches.

Locally, some workplaces hosting senior job training now include the Kenan Center, Madonna House, the Salvation Army and the state Department of Labor.

The Niagara County office of Experience Works has funding to work with at least 50 seniors through mid 2010, according to Rich Saxton, regional employment and training coordinator.

There’s currently no waiting list for program entry. The local office is in the Trott Access Center, Niagara Falls. To inquire about eligibility, call (800) 854-1578.

Here’s this week’s Q&A; with Rich Saxton, talking about Experience Works and the ways it helps older Americans hold their own in a tough job market.

•••

Question: What’s involved in job training?

Answer: It’s hands-on, real-life training in offices, in not-for-profit agencies in the community. It’s like a college internship. You’re paid minimum wage to work and learn. The Department of Labor OKs us for 18 hours a week, presently.

We can do mobile computer training, meaning Experience Works provides it; we can do online training for those who have access to the Internet.

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