By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Laura Megown says she finds many of today's older adults, especially those who want -- or need -- to re-enter the workforce, are caught between what she calls "the industrial age and the digital divide."
Translation: Computers are not the best friends of many seniors.
"The one real big issue for many (older adults) is the online application process that many employers now use," said Megown, who works for the West Central Area Agency on Aging and deals first-hand with seniors in a six-county region who are seeking employment.
Megown says many seniors lack the skills to properly get through an online application, which is one of the reasons behind Thursday's 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. job fair at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center, 639 York.
All ages are welcome to attend the job fair, which will feature special sessions for older workers. There is no charge for either job-seekers or employers who wish to take part.
Megown said an increasing number of older adults seeking employment continues to rise because they are finding they need more money to make ends meet. Rising insurance and health-related costs are two of the biggest problems for the seniors, Megown said.
The seniors seeking to gain employment are not only those in their 50s and 60s. Megown said she receives a steady diet of inquiries from those in their 70s who have exhausted their financial resources.
"People are also living longer these days," said Megown -- and as a result some need to return to the workforce for a supplemental income due to the rising costs and decreased or terminated benefits. "They need to work out of necessity."
Megown said many employers prefer older workers because of their knowledge and reliability, but some of those seniors need to re-invent themselves by developing -- or at least sharpening their -- abilities that revolve around computer-related activities. The most important item on an older adult's resume may not be his or her work history, but "what they can do," Megown said.
Megown said there are programs in place to assist older adults in the job-seeking process, and a fair such as Thursday's can help spell out some of those aids.
The job fair will feature a 9-10 a.m. panel especially for older workers. Local employers will be represented and will discuss applications and today's overall job-seeking process.
Seniors will also be the main priority between 10-11 a.m. Both seniors and other workers will be targeted between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
"We want to do all we can to help senior workers obtain employment," Megown said. "This is a chance for both applicants and employers to find each other and make the connections that will benefit both."
Kip Colgrove of Experience Works, which serves job seekers 55 and older, said, "We are fortunate in this area to have a great workforce and excellent employers. We want to make it easier for them to get together."
Employers not signed up but who would like to take part in the job fair should contact Megown at (217) 223-5700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.