Experience Works program helps older applicants find jobs

By Sheldon Dutes  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Like most people over the age of 55, Christie Sebastian feels a little intimidated when it comes to applying for new jobs.

"Just because there's so many people applying for jobs," Sebastian said. "I don't think a lot of applications get looked at, especially if they see the age on there. They might just pass that one over."

And Sebastian isn't alone. Whether it is the slumping economy or other reasons, almost a quarter of American workers plan to delay retirement and continue working, according to a survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

But with double digit unemployment and fierce competition from younger workers, people over the age of 55 may feel hopeless.

"You have a lot of kids coming out of college with great skills who can be molded to do those same jobs. A Lot of the cases they can do it for less money," said Jim Coles, Director of the Charleston area Employment and Workforce Office.

But Sebastian isn't giving up hope. Even though she has been out of work for four years, she is ready to try her hand at something new and Experience Works is ready to help.

Wes Walker, an Employment and Training Coordinator Assistant with Experience Works said the program "matches people with what we call a host agency, which serves the purpose of giving them new skill sets or more education for a certain job."

The federal and state funded non-profit also pays the participant's income while they are working.

"We're giving that company free employment essentially. All of our host agencies are essentially non-profits as well. It's a win-win situation," Walker said.

In addition to new skill sets and experience, Sebastian is gaining contacts and personnel resources.

"They're hooked up with a lot of different people that you can actually get what you want, so I'm excited. There's a lot of possibilities now," Sebastian added.

The Experience Works program is free and there are locations in North Charleston and downtown Charleston. For more information call 953-8476.

"I am very encouraged that I have some help now. I feel more confident," Sebastian said.

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