AARP grant funds opportunity for baby-boomers

LisaMarie Lusk

A grant from the American Association of Retired Persons provides opportunities for job seekers age 50 and older residing in Lane County. The free course, offered through Lane Workforce Partnership, focuses on teaching the basics and culture of the financial industry to baby-boomers. The course is called LWP/AARP Financial Services Training.

The seven-week course prepares older students to compete for entry level teller positions, precisely what the banks and credit unions were seeking when they approached Lane. Financial executives and hiring managers expressed that they would like their employees to reflect their members’ and customers’ diverse ages.

The course is a collaboration between a variety of groups that include the AARP, LWP, WorkSource Lane, the Small Business Development Center, LCC’s Employer Training Services Department and local banks and credit unions. It is a pilot program intended to be duplicated through AARP in other markets. The idea is to create a turnkey curriculum that can be plugged into other existing programs.

Lane instructor Morgan Munro, who has an MBA and specializes in strategy and organizational development, built the curriculum for the course. Each group that goes through the program is called a cohort. There will be a total of five cohorts by the time the program is complete in August 2015. Job readiness, placement and ongoing support are provided through WSL.

“I built in all of these social pieces because I find that’s how people learn best, no matter their age,” Munro said. “It’s all about feeling useful and productive, and that you can do this.”

Husband and wife Debra and Mark Kruk participated in the second cohort that ended in mid- November. Debra Kruk has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and had been out of the workforce for 15 years. So she felt that the course would give her a good place to start.

“When you’ve been out of the work force for a long time you can’t just step into some high powered job,” she said.

Mark Kruk worked for thirty years in the food industry doing product development and three years as a financial advisor. “You can graduate with the feeling of being effective,” Mr. Kruk said. “The class was done in a preparatory way.”

He said that he hoped the course would lead him back into the financial industry and working with people again. Mr. Kruk said he liked how it was done step by step, which allowed him to reflect on his progress through the course.

“You could look back and say these are all the things I put together to package myself up ready to go,” he said. “It’s led me to a potential job.”

Students expressed feeling inspired to look outside the box and didn’t necessarily feel that they had to go into banking to benefit from the course. They said they felt better prepared to apply for any job they were interested in.

Iris Silver, a former bookkeeper who participated in the first cohort in August 2014, expressed how valuable informational interviews were for networking. She said she could envision the interviews taking her in an entrepreneurial direction connected to the financial industry.

“She [Munro] showed us the power of getting out into the community and talking with people who you don’t know and asking them about their job,” Silver said. “I mean most people are forthcoming and want to give you information about what’s going on.”

Those interested are required to first fill out an application. Other requirements include registering with WSL, passing the National Career Readiness Certification, and being employable. Certain criminal offenses, such as identity theft, disqualify applicants.

For information contact:

Morgan Munro
Janet Lewis

Orientations will be held in both February and March.
Sessions are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Call for location information