After years of working, many senior citizens wanted to spend their golden years in blissful retirement. But the economic downturn has sent many back into the job market and returning to the workforce is easier said than done. WHIZ’s Katie Jeffries has more.
Sherry Skaggs has had a rough three years.
"Starting with a semi accident with my husband, he hasn’t worked since April 2007, to me loosing two different jobs and when I got this I was very happy," says Sherry.
Sherry’s luck began turning around in March of 2009 when she joined the Experience Works program at the Muskingum County Opportunities Center in Zanesville. The Experience Works Program is for people 55 or older who can’t find work and want to learn skills to get back into the job market.
"From then on I was looking everyday because that was one of our requirements. We had to actually look for work for jobs that were in our job skill," tells Sherry.
Sherry says the job coordinator at the Muskingum County Opportunity Center notified her about the job opening at the Russ and Glenn James contracting and she interviewed that day and was hired on the spot.
While Sherry is happy in her new job, according to Reuters there are more than 2 million people 55 and older looking for work.
Amid the dire economic times many senior citizens had to re-join the workforce just to keep their heads above water. But coming out of retirement is no easy task.
"it is important that seniors really have to understand that if they are put in a new job situation that the expectation from them are the same as a 25 or 35 year old so if you become unemployed it is important to stay in good shape and eat right," says Bob Mercer, the Executive Director of the Muskingum County Opportunity Center.
Basic computer skills are a must for almost every job. Local libraries or programs like Experience Works have free computer classes available to seniors. Learning to use the Internet to job hunt can open a wide range of opportunities for seniors. But a fear for many seniors is that there will be age prejudice at their new workplace.
"When I talk to someone about that , if there is some prejudice there, then you wouldn’t want to work with them anyhow," says Mercer.
Seniors going into the workforce need to remember and play up the experience and knowledge they have gained that a younger person may not have. Add in technical skills and they can be just as competitive as anyone else.
If you can push through the tough times like Sherry, you just may come out the other side with a second chance.