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Experience for Hire: Harnessing Talent of Older MI Workers

Many older job seekers require little training, prefer a flexible schedule and want some added income but don't need benefits. (tech_estromberg/Flickr)
Many older job seekers require little training, prefer a flexible schedule and want some added income but don't need benefits. (tech_estromberg/Flickr)
June 22, 2017

LANSING, Mich. -- The talents of older Michiganders are the focus of a new program to help find workers for about 100,000 unfilled jobs in the state.

"Experience for Hire" launched in Ingham, Jackson, Macomb and Wayne counties this summer. It aims to connect older adults with job opportunities that match their skills.

AARP Michigan is part of the initiative, and State Director Paula Cunningham said trying to find the right person for the right job can be a big challenge for employers. She said many seniors who might have retired early or aren't otherwise employed could have what it takes.

"We have people who have skill sets,” Cunningham said. "They were electricians, they had been CPAs, they were tool-and-dye makers, they were engineers. They would love to get back into the workplace - whether it's 20, 30, or 40 hours a week. They would love to contribute again."

AARP Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corp, Michigan Works!, and local chambers of commerce are partners in the collaborative.

Cunningham said employers in the Experience for Hire program can interview a screened pool of applicants who require little training, are open to flexible schedules and often aren't seeking additional job benefits beyond earning money.

"Every day, 10,000 people turn 65 years old, and they're continuing to stay active and involved,” she said. "When we think of an older worker, we're not talking about someone who can't remember how to drive from one place to another. But we're talking about viable, energetic, committed and dedicated folks."

She added that besides being a win for workers and businesses, putting people to work is beneficial for the state.

"Just think about the economic growth that we could have in Michigan if we could fill another 100,000 - even half of those jobs,” Cunningham said. "Ten years ago, 15 years ago, we didn't have that problem; people were trying very, very desperately to find work. And now, employers can't find the skill sets that they need."

Cunningham also noted that older workers' work ethic and knowledge also can generate enthusiasm among younger people in a workplace.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI