In these challenging economic times, perhaps no local agency or program serving the unemployed in the Bay area is more aware of the growing demand by seniors 55 and older for part-time employment than AARP Foundation WorkSearch.
One of its popular satellite offices is at the Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. North. Here, on almost any given weekday, when the office is ever open, someone is meeting with Employment Specialist Susan Dyer, hoping to get the kind of assistance that will eventually lead to a job.
Project Director Bob Yakubisin, with AARP Foundation WorkSearch, who is responsible for overseeing operation sites in Pinellas and Manatee counties, says, he and his staff of employment specialists find and place seniors in a variety of jobs.
But the number of jobs they are learning about these days is limited. Clients may not have the kind of background and experience some employers are seeking. Overall, there are far more seniors looking for work in these difficult economic times than the program has funding, training initiatives and resources to handle.
But there is a way readers can help. As Yakubisin put it, “What we need are more jobs. If there are businesses out there who have part-time jobs that would be ideal for seniors, we want to know about them.”
The types of jobs AARP Foundation WorkSearch have included “many administrative-type jobs, such as receptionist and clerical positions in doctor’s offices or automotive dealers.” Other part-time jobs for successful job placement have been maintenance and custodial positions.
Believe it or not, in many cases, a senior’s age, even if somewhat advanced, will not necessarily keep him or her from being hired. Yakubisin cited a gentleman last year, well in his 80s, who was hired as a part-time activities director for an assisted living facility.
But note there is a catch. This program is structured to help specifically low-income seniors. To qualify as a single individual, your income cannot exceed $10,890 and for a couple the limit is $14,710. If you live strictly off Social Security income, your earnings must be $13,613 or less. And for a couple solely relying on Social Security, joint income cannot exceed $18,388.
If you are on disability, none of the income you receive will be counted against you. Therefore, you stand a very good chance of being accepted into the program when an opening occurs.
When those openings will come is anybody’s guess. At the moment the program has 110 Pinellas County participants and many more waiting. However, Yakubisin says that shouldn’t stop someone from visiting any of the program’s satellite offices, including the one at the Sunshine Center. Here you can at least fill out a “User Information Sheet.” The Sunshine Center office will keep this on file, so when an opening does occur you can be admitted into the program.
In addition, while you are there, Employment Specialist Susan Dyer can give you some basic assistance, like helping with your resume and giving you updates on job possibilities in the local marketplace.
“We also serve often as morale-boosters for seniors who come into our offices,” Yakubisin noted. “Some of them have lost their confidence. They feel like they do not have any skills or experience that would be helpful to an employer. But that isn’t so. Everybody has some kind of work experience or have done things in their lives that could translate to a job position."
“There are jobs out there," he says. "What seniors need to do is get out there and knock on doors. They’ll find them.”
If you have a business or are aware of a one in the Old Northeast or Downtown St. Petersburg area, who has a part-time job opening that would be ideal for someone age 55 or older, please call AARP Foundation WorkSearch Project Director Bob Yakubisin at (727) 547-0534 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business hours of operation at the Sunshine Center office are Monday, from noon to 2 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Employment Specialist Susan Dyer for this office can be reached at (727) 552-1835.