The SCSEP Program: How PDC and You Could Benefit
The PDC operates on a thin margin − the better to keep low the costs of its course offerings − by making use of the skills and talents of those “in transition” − including folks like Bruce Hemeon. If you’ve taken a PDC course at its Canton headquarters, you’ve benefited from Bruce’s work, even if you don’t know him.
“My job has been to ensure the compatibility of all of PDC’s desktop computers,” Hemeon says. The 13 machines are of various vintages, but thanks to Bruce, everyone brushing up on Excel or learning the intricacies of advanced LinkedIn sees the same screen image when logging on.
Hemeon came to PDC through the Senior Community Service Employment Program, or SCSEP (pronounced SEE-sep), a resource of the U.S. Department of Labor aimed at older adults who have been out of the workforce for a while. SCSEP funds are provided to certain national organizations, such as AARP and Goodwill Industries, as well as to state agencies such as the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA).
EOEA contracts with local providers in several Massachusetts communities to put the SCSEP dollars to work. In metropolitan Boston, the EOEA provider is Operation A.B.L.E., where Tee Provost is the program manager. Provost explains the mission of SCSEP succinctly, saying that the goal for participants is to “build skills, build confidence and get off the program and into a job.”
More specifically, SCSEP funds jobs in government agencies and nonprofits, including PDC, offering 20 hours per week of paid work at the state’s minimum wage. Eligibility criteria include age (55 or over), household income (125 percent of poverty level), and employment status (SCSEP participation can be combined with unemployment benefits, but not other subsidized employment).
Provost says PDC and other organizations benefit because SCSEP funds positions they otherwise couldn’t afford, and participants benefit as they begin to contribute in a new setting, enhance their resumes and conquer the lack of confidence that accompanies month after frustrating month of job searching.
Hemeon’s contributions to PDC are easy to see. His SCSEP colleague, Jeff Stevens, is working at the same time behind the scenes, keeping the PDC shipshape. “I started as office manager,” Stevens reports, “tracking course registrations and analyzing evaluations.” Over time his role has evolved to, in his words, “promoting the business.”
As PDC develops its training calendar, Stevens promotes the offering by designing course flyers for libraries and career centers as well as e-blasts for the PDC mailing list. A librarian by training, calls on his organizational and research skills to manage the PDC database of contacts, search for grant possibilities and enhance the website’s content. Soon, Stevens will be helping to publicize a PDC course designed by Bruce Hemeon. The topic: job search burnout.
Both Hemeon and Stevens aim to follow the path blazed by Mary McDonald, a SCSEP participant who served as an admissions specialist and then an outreach specialist at Operation A.B.L.E. “Because of SCSEP,” McDonald says, “I learned new skills to add to my abilities, and that got me back to full-time work.”
Earlier this year McDonald was hired as human resources associate by the AIDS Action Committee of Boston. “When I interviewed, they wanted experience with community outreach,” she says. “I talked about being on the A.B.L.E. marketing team, about attending job fairs and marketing SCSEP. I could show them my skills were transferrable.” McDonald enthusiastically describes herself as a “cheerleader” for SCSEP.
Tee Provost reports that, depending on the economy and other outside factors, anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of SCSEP participants move on to permanent employment each year. In preparation for that outcome, SCSEP workers can take educational and training classes in combination with the program. While working at PDC, Stevens has studied Photoshop, fund-raising, scrum and agile. Hemeon has improved his skills in the Microsoft Office suite and learned tips to enhance his resume. “Because of my work at PDC, I can add ‘IT consultant’ to my skill set,” Hemeon says. “That has meant more and different calls from potential employers, and a better job search,” he concludes.
Operation A.B.L.E. holds weekly workshops to introduce the SCSEP program. Get more information at www.operationable.net/jobseekerinfosession.html, or contact Larry Elle, president of PDC.
Karen L. Blomquist, a writer and communications strategist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.