For a variety of reasons, a growing number of older Iowans are choosing to join or stay in the workforce well past the traditional retirement age. But whether they are working by choice or out of economic necessity, many find the job market to be quite challenging. The jobless rate of workers who are 55 years or older and earn less than $20,000 per year is three times higher than that of older workers in general, and older workers take twice as long as younger workers to find employment.
To help address this issue, the Department administers the Senior Employment Program to assist older Iowans gain and maintain employment and increase their self-sufficiency.
Components of the Senior Employment Program
Senior Community Service Employment Program
As authorized by Section 502 of the Older Americans Act, the Iowa Department on Aging oversees the state’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) to help foster individual economic self-sufficiency among older Iowans and promote useful opportunities in community service activities. SCSEP serves unemployed, low-income individuals who are 55 or older and who have limited employment prospects due to a lack of experience, outdated skills or long-term unemployment. The program’s objective is to provide job skills training to older adults to assist them in obtaining and maintaining unsubsidized employment. It meets this goal by placing participants at government or not-for-profit organizations, where they receive paid training for community service work.
Older Worker Employment Program
The Department has collaborated with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services to create the Older Worker Employment Program (OWEP). The program uses federal funds to house older worker employment specialists at each of the state’s six Area Agencies on Aging, where they provide employment services to Iowans aged 55 or older with disabilities. Services include assisting job candidates with completing job applications, writing resumes, practicing for interviews and networking with prospective employers.
Benefits to Older Iowans
Research shows that people who work into the later half of their 60s (or beyond) benefit from a number of things, including a more secure financial future, improved access to insurance options and increased socialization. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Iowa currently has the ninth highest employment-to-population ratio in the nation for workers aged 55 or older, at 43 percent.