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“Experience never gets old” is the tagline for Robert De Niro’s newest movie The Intern, which follows a 70-year-old widower who decides to rejoin the workforce as an intern. The tagline is catchy and also appropriate for the spotlight being placed on the valuable, untapped experience of elders across the country who are volunteering, interning, mentoring and contributing to society long past retirement age.

An aging Baby Boomer generation is changing America’s workforce demographic and people from Hollywood to Boston are noticing. In the U.S. alone, adults are turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, and the number of people remaining in the workforce at age 75 has grown by over 140 percent in the past 30 years. Massachusetts’ seniors have a life expectancy of 80.2 years, which is 2 years longer than the national average. The Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA), Alice Bonner, wants to tap into this often overlooked resource and notes that “the well-being of our economy and our society depends on leveraging the strengths of older workers.”

EOEA and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) recently celebrated “National Employ Older Workers Week” honoring exemplary employers, workforce partners, training providers, and older workers for their participation in the Personal Home Care Aide State Training (PHCAST) and Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

SCSEP provides on-the-job skills training to people 55+ with limited financial resources, and the program has helped over one million seniors enter the workforce. The PHCAST program offers homecare training. Both are collaborations with that support seniors thriving and aging in place. Through collaboration across several government agencies, mature workers receive job skills training, resulting in a “seniors helping seniors” approach with a successful Direct Care Workers Pilot program coordinated by the Home Care Aide Council.

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs addressed the crowd saying she was “proud to be an older worker. It is good for us and it’s good for the people we work with.” Sen. Jehlen highlighted the benefits of hiring mature workers who are often described as:  diligent, skilled, loyal, and highly reliable.  The crowd also heard impactful remarks from the Undersecretary and Chief Operating Officer of Executive Office of Labor and Work Stephanie Neal-Johnson, State Director of AARP Massachusetts Michael E. Festa, and Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Finance in the Department of Higher Education Sean Nelson, and Executive Director for Home Care Aide Council, Lisa Gurgone.

Award recipient Mary Murray

Award recipient Mary Murray shared her story of losing her job after the company she worked for was sold. At 66-years-old Murray wasn’t ready to retire so she decided to build on her own experience having cared for her aging mother. She entered the Direct Care Workers training program and ultimately became a Certified Nursing Assistant with the help of SCSEP. Being a mature worker made her uniquely qualified: “Not only did I know what the client needed, I also understood how important it was to the families that their loved one was well cared for.”

Murray captured the spirit of the day with some encouraging words.  “I am here today… to tell anyone of any age, that they can learn a new skill and they can be a valuable part of the work force!”

Learn more about our programs for mature workers.

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