The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Program Helps 55-plus Re-Enter Workforce


September 11, 2019

A sudden disruption in a person's career or work pattern can be devastating. There are questions of what to do next, how to get employed, if you should after a certain age, how to adjust to a lower salary if necessary.

The National Able Network can help those questions and more.

The National Able Network is a non-profit organization administering the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) through State and Federal grants.

Kristen Knobbe, director of the Nebraska/Iowa SCSEP, said the program is designed to return people to employment. The focus is to transition clients from unemployment to gainful employment. Clients are assisted with assessing what they need to return to work after an unexpected loss of employment. The program includes interview and job assistance, computer skills vocational update and maintenance and assessing what is needed to maintain a job. Knobbe said the gap between work and unemployment could include reliable transportation, a phone or housing.

“The goal is we work with organizations within the community to provide internships of 20 to 25 hours per week with a paid stipend,” she said.

She added the relationship with the client is based on returning the client to work as soon as possible. She stressed able is not a temp placement agency. It is designed to equip workers 55 and older to remain in the workforce.

“The goal is to have them walking out (of the program) employed,” she said.

Qualifying for the program is simple. An applicant must be at least 55 years of age, meet the program's income requirements and be willing to improve job skills and be willing to learn new ones.

“Once you're on our program, you're there to be successful,” Knobbe said.

She said the focus is not just finding employment, but finding the right job, the one that fits the client best.

“If you go in (to a job situation) and decide 'this is not what I want to do' then we rotate you,” she said.

She said “rotate” is to move the client to another internship opportunity that would better fit his or her skills and interests.

Knobbe said the program stresses staying employed. She said some gaps in employment can cause an employer to question if you are the right candidate. She added age is not always a barrier to employment.

“A lot of people say 'I'm too old.' That's not true,” she said. “My oldest client is 93.”

Able and the SCSEP has a representative who works with the Sidney, Alliance, and Scottsbluff communities. To contact the National Able Network and schedule a local appointment, call 1-855-994-8300.


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