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Democracy Trailblazers ignite enthusiasm among teen voters; CA monster blizzard batters Tahoe, Mammoth, Sierra amid avalanche warnings; MN transportation sector could be next in line for carbon-free standard; IN teachers 'stunned' by lawmakers' bid to bypass collective bargaining.

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Nikki Haley says she may not endorse the GOP nominee, President Biden says the U-S will continue air-dropping aid into Gaza and more states look at ditching the electoral college for a national popular vote.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Virginia Seniors Get Help with Job Training, Confidence Building

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Wednesday, July 12, 2023   

A Virginia program is helping older workers launch their "second act" in the workforce.

The Northern Virginia Senior Community Services Employment Program, run from Fairfax County, aims to provide people over 55 with the training they need for positions like working at senior centers and office administrators.

A 2022 statewide community needs assessment found having job skills for the current workforce and looking for work are the biggest challenges for the 55+ age group.

Linda Siam, project director for the Northern Virginia Senior Community Services Employment Program, said future initiatives for the program include a biweekly "job coaching club," and more specialized computer training courses.

"We want to ensure that our participants have an opportunity to go to each center and take the basic computer skills," Siam explained. "These are very individual classes with a small group, so that they can receive direct attention and direct training."

She added the computer courses will be available at all the program's centers, so anyone can take advantage of them. On average, participants train around 20 hours a week and receive a stipend. The stipend amount is the highest minimum wage, whether that be federal, state or local.

Feedback about the program has been positive from the people who have signed up to diversify their workforce skills. Siam pointed out even with new skills, one challenge for participants is building up their confidence to venture into the workforce again.

"In talking about helping them set their goals, they may think that they're unable to perform well, so really, we're working with them on confidence building," Siam observed. "Even when they're at their site, still we're in very close contact with them, in ensuring that they know they're in a training program and that they're there to learn."

The pandemic was another challenge, although Siam said it was easily overcome by putting the computer skills training online through Zoom. But the lingering effects include reduced staff sizes for the training sites, and the hybrid workplace adjustments for a post-COVID world.


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