Older workers may find it difficult to find employment or may feel that their prospects are limited by their education, training and experience. For some, the Senior Community Service Employment Program may give useful work-based retraining and the chance to find a new job.
What is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)?
Authorized by the Older Americans Act, the SCSEP gives community and work based training to those aged 55+ on low incomes. Its aim is to help older workers to learn new skills and gain on the job experience via short-term assignments to help them move into employment and to improve their work prospects.
How Does the SCSEP Work?
The program places individuals into community service environments where they will be given work-based training on a short-term basis. So, for example, a qualifying applicant may be given a role in a school, a hospital or a day-care or senior center. The program benefits the individual by giving them useful training and experience and also provides over 40 million community service hours to non-profit and public agencies.
Do Workers Get Paid on the Senior Community Service Employment Program?
The SCSEP is a subsidized program. Those accepted on to it will be paid based on either federal, state or local minimum wage. The money they earn is based on the highest of these three wage-scales for their location. They will also be given access to a range of useful services.
- Provision of an IEP (Individual Employment Plan).
- Placement in a community service job.
- Orientation and training (both specific to their assignment and to any needs highlighted in their IEP).
- Fringe benefits and annual physicals.
- Help to find an unsubsidized job and assistance from One-Stop Career Centers.
Most people working in the program will work an average of 20 hours a week .
Will Working in the SCSEP Help Older Workers Find a New Job Later?
There are no guarantees here but the program has a target of getting 30% of its authorized positions converted into unsubsidized jobs each year. According to data on the United States Department of Labor website, this figure reached 48% for the 2008 program year (tracked to June 2009).
Can All Older Workers Apply for the Senior Community Service Employment Program?
The program does have some qualifying criteria. It is targeted at helping those aged 55+ that have a low income and that are unemployed/have poor prospects of finding a job. The total family income of an applicant cannot be more than 25% over the Federal poverty level.
Some individuals may be given priority and preference on the program. Priority is given, for example, to applicants that are:
- Aged over 60.
- Veterans (or qualifying spouses).
Preference may also be given to those with:
- Minority status, limited English language skills and Indian eligibity.
- The greatest economic need.
This program is targeted at helping those at most need of help and, although it does not give a permanent solution, it may help improve employment prospects for some participants. Funds for the SCSEP are divided between “grantees” (a mix of non-profit organizations and state/territorial government units). The Department of Labour has a list of grantees by state for those that wish to learn more about local opportunities.