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:
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.
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):
Customer service representative
Building maintenance worker
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:
Have appropriate training for older workers
Offer diverse and quality training opportunities
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.