Central VA Offers New Workshop for Older Workforce

Lynchburg, VA - About a dozen people attended the first "Wisdom at Work" program in Lynchburg Thursday.

It's a partnership between the Beard Center on Aging at Lynchburg College, Region 2000 Workforce Investment Board and the Virginia Employment Commission.

The workshop offers support and job search training for people age 50 and older.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1/5 workers will be 55 years or older by 2015. It's one of the fastest growing labor groups in the country as more people delay retirement and more manufacturers pull out of the U.S.

Ginny DuBois never planned on finding herself here.

"Here I am, unemployed, 58 years old. And I don't know what I'm gonna do," DuBois said, sitting among a handful of other job seekers.

She's applied to dozens of jobs since she was laid off 16 months ago, but says employers all tell her the same thing: She's overqualified.

Denise Scruggs is the director of Lynchburg College's Beard Center on Aging.

"That's one of the things we hope to do with this program, give older workers or people looking at job changes: hope," Scruggs explained.

Hope is something Robert Berry never lost. Instead of retiring at 50 years old, he found himself looking for work during the peak of the recession. He landed a job working at Chick-Fil-A on Wards Road, which led him to become a lab monitor at the public library.

Now, he's with the Virginia Employment Commission, training about a dozen other job-seekers, to follow in his footsteps.

Sandra Taylor lost her job to a computer program.

"I was laid off from my job back in April," Taylor said.

Like many in her age bracket, the biggest challenge is getting comfortable with technology.

"They're worried about not being able to make their bills for the month. They're worried about what's gonna happen next," explained Scruggs.

DuBois said no matter what, she won't give up.

"What they're telling me to do and what I learned here in just this short time, was excellent," she said.

Experts recommend posting your resume on Virginia Workforce Connection's website.

The "Wisdom at Work" workshops will be held the third Thursday of each month, from 9-11 a.m. at Marsh Memorial United Methodist Church on Leesville Road.