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Over 55 and Searching for a Job: An Overview of the Senior Community Service and Employment Program (SCSEP)

Created in 1965, SCSEP is the nation’s oldest program to help low-income, unemployed individuals aged 55+ find work. SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time training assignments for non-profit organizations. Participants build skills and self-confidence while earning a modest income – it is common for this program to lead to permanent employment.

This article reviews the benefits and qualifying criteria for both the participant and the participating organization. Directions to participate in the program are found below.

To be a SCSEP participant, three criteria are required to be eligible to participate:

  1. Age 55+

  2. Unemployed

  3. Living on a family income of no more than 125% of the federal poverty level (contact a local SCSEP office for current income qualifications)

Overview of SCSEP participants

  • 65% are women; 49% are a racial or ethnic minority; 20% have at least one disability

  • 43% have one or more years of college; 39% have a high school diploma; 18% do not have a high school diploma

  • 32% are 65 or older; 13% are 70 or older

  • 28% live in rural areas

  • 13% are veterans or qualified spouses

Applying for SCSEP

To apply for SCSEP, contact the local SCSEP office to complete an application. If eligibility requirements are met and there is no waiting list at that office, enrollment to train at a non-profit organization in the community will be established. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

Hours and pay

Training for a position takes an average of 20 hours a week paid at an hourly rate. The rate is minimum wage based on the highest option — the federal, state, or local minimum wage. Most participants are trained by the SCSEP for about six months before a permanent job begins.

Job Examples

Training includes all the skills needed to do the job assigned, including using a computer. Available jobs fill a vital community service need. Every office has a different list of available positions which may change frequently. Six typical positions that may be available (but not limited to):

  1. Childcare provider

  2. Customer service representative

  3. Teachers’ aide

  4. Computer technician

  5. Building maintenance worker

  6. Health care worker

Direct health care worker program (in-home health care)

SCSEP has a program that trains seniors to be direct care providers to elderly and disabled persons who need in-home, non-medical assistance. The program works with direct care agencies to train workers that can provide helpful assistance to those in need. To learn more about SCSEP, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's website. To contact a local SCSEP office visit CareerOneStop.

To be a SCSEP participating organization

Employers benefit from SCSEP because qualified and trained senior workers can fill important roles within an organization. Nonprofit organizations and public facilities are eligible to become SCSEP training site with three qualifications:

  1. Have appropriate training for older workers

  2. Offer diverse and quality training opportunities

  3. Meet NCOA safety standards

SCSEP trains mature workers to meet organizational needs

SCSEP works directly with employers to provide qualified mature workers trained to their requirements. The program is called On-the-Job Experience (OJE). Through OJE, the local SCSEP project agrees to pay all or part of a mature worker’s wages while he or she is trained. Paperwork is kept to a minimum. The worker must be eligible for SCSEP, and certain limitations apply. SCSEP will recruit direct care workers. To become a SCSEP training site, please contact us.

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