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VIEWPOINT: Goodwill Industries program matches senior workers, employers

Contributing Writer //June 23, 2022//

VIEWPOINT: Goodwill Industries program matches senior workers, employers

Contributing Writer //June 23, 2022//

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I’ve been a workforce development professional since 2007. That’s also when I first became aware of the mission side of Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina.

We’re all familiar with the thrift stores. What many people don’t know? Those great deals fuel an enterprise that provides career training and job placement services for thousands of folks in our local communities. It was something I came to understand deeply when I became the business solutions director for Midlands Technical College in 2012. Students came to Midlands Tech for training and certifications through a partnership with Goodwill.

Class after class, I saw the impact of Goodwill. Some people gained a new way to support themselves or their family. Some used Goodwill’s programs for help with a job search, writing a resume or for interview coaching. The more I learned, the more I was compelled to bring those services to more South Carolinians. In 2018, I joined the nonprofit’s Board of Directors.

Through my work on the Board, I’ve gotten to know more of Goodwill’s career services programs. I believe one in particular — the Senior Community Service Employment Program — is a win-win for purpose-seeking older Americans and businesses emerging from COVID-19 into today’s tighter-than-tight job market.

SCSEP is a community service and work-based job training program for Americans age 55 and older. The program, first authorized by Congress’ Older Americans Act in 1965, provides training for low-income, unemployed seniors.

If your first thought is it’s a nonstarter because seniors are retired, I wouldn’t be surprised. But the reality is quite the opposite.

Retirement is a luxury many seniors do not have nor one that some even seek.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2024, the labor force will grow to an estimated 164 million people. Of that, about 41 million are expected to be age 55+. Within those senior workers will be a super senior workforce of about 13 million age 65+.

While some will need income, others are simply not yet ready for retirement. They crave purpose. They’re not built to sit at home every day.

The SCSEP program is ideal for both senior populations plus those who don’t know how to go about getting a job or lack skills demanded by modern workplaces. With so much emphasis on technology, learning computer skills was a big draw for the SCSEP program before the pandemic. Post-COVID, hiring trends have further digitized.

Virtual interviews, digital meetings and conferences occur on screens every day. And that’s all on top of the job hunting basics — connecting with employers, preparing a resume and interviewing for a role.

But the benefits of SCSEP don’t end with employees. It’s relief for employers, too.

At this moment, many organizations are struggling to fill seats. With labor in high demand, part-time jobs are going unfilled.

There’s an entire population of experienced workers Goodwill can connect employers to. They’re vetted, productive, reliable and have much to offer.

Participants are first evaluated for their skills and interests and then placed with local or nonprofit government agencies. They receive about 20 hours per week paid, on-the-job skills training in places such as social services nonprofits, schools, libraries, daycare and senior centers, and health care centers.

Connecting people who want to work with places to work. That’s what’s happening at your local Goodwill today and every day.

If you’d like to learn more about the Senior Community Service Employment Program, just reach out to Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina by calling (864) 593-6984 or toll-free 1-877-538-7975 or email

Kim Mann is the talent Management Consultant for the South Carolina Department of Commerce as well as Board Secretary for Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina.

This article first appeared in the Viewpoint section of the June 20 print edition of the Columbia Regional Business Report