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Older Workers CommitteeDecember 15, 2009:
MAINE JOBS COUNCIL 45 COMMERCE DRIVE AUGUSTA, MAINE 04330
OLDER WORKERS COMMITTEE (WEIC) Maine Jobs Council December 15, 2009 MINUTES
Present: Larry Ullian, Debbie Kelly, Maggie Vishneau, Dan Muth, Bob Traill, John Christie, Barry Peaco, Esther Clenott, Ruth Pease, Deb McNeil, Jim McGrath, Bryant Hoffman, Ruth Graves, Jim Caston, Garret Oswald, and Peaches Bass (staff)
Approval of Minutes Bryant Hoffman moved and John Christie seconded approval of the minutes from the October 20, 2009 meeting. There was unanimous approval.
Deb McNeil from Senator Olympia Snowe’s Office At the Committee’s invitation, Deb McNeil, Constituent representative for Senator Olympia Snowe, attended the meeting. The Committee asked her if she or the Senator had any information about a variety of proposed bills addressing employment of older workers. Ms. McNeil informed us that none of the bills were being heard yet, and very few details are available. She asked if any Committee members had other questions or concerns that she could take back to Senator Snowe. No one had anything special in mind, but Ms. McNeil stayed for most of the meeting and showed interest in several of the discussions. She offered to visit the Committee again in the future and asked that she be put on the Committee’s email distribution list.
SCSEP (Senior Community Service Employment Program) Discussion Dan Muth gave a status report on SCSEP. More stimulus funding is available for programs that can use the resources NOW. The funds would double the amount available from the original stimulus. Barry Peaco commented that Goodwill Industries is at full capacity and has a waiting list, with 71 people being served by the routine SCSEP funding and 14 more served by SCSEP/Recovery Act funding.
Esther Clenott expressed some concerns about SCSEP, particularly that the income cap is too low and when the training period is over, the participants still have to find a job.
It was added that the 2003 amendments to SCSEP funding put a four-year limit on program participation.
Debbie Kelly added that even if people are eligible for COBRA coverage, it is still prohibitively expensive. (COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 which provided a mechanism for employees who are separated from employment to continue their group health insurance coverage, but the employee is responsible for paying the premium. There is a time limit on how long the person can subscribe to that coverage.)
Update on Aging Worker Initiative (AWI) and Discussion
Debbie Kelly gave a briefing on developments with the new Aging Worker Initiative (AWI). Debbie is employed by the Coastal Counties Workforce, Incorporated as AWI Program Manager. Included in her briefing were the following items:
• AWI has funds to train 200 participants in new and existing occupations
• AWI is addressing “seasoned workers” through Dave Tomm’s Seasoned Workforce Forums. Attendance has been very high and he plans to expand the program from local to statewide.
• Each local Workforce Investment Board will hire and “older worker” navigator to identify needs for training, education, resources, etc. The navigators will also connect with Community Colleges.
• AWI will offer a WorkReady credential customized for people 55+ in age.
• AWI will use the National Able Network training and leverage its network of services.
• The Older Worker Committee is the Advisory Board for the AWI.
• AWI is assuming responsibility for the Silver Collar Award.
• The Muskie School of Public Service is providing employer education. • There is no financial eligibility requirement to receive AWI services. • Maine has employed some activities unique to Maine that constitute best practices. • Some workers over 55 are being laid off, then their jobs are posted at lower salaries. Many people over 55 are falling through the cracks.
John Christie has spoken to the producer of “The Way We Get By” about producing a shortened version of the film to promote community volunteerism.
Bob Traill mentioned that the staffing business is booming. He feels that this is a good trend; more companies are hiring temporary workers and transforming them to full time employees on the payroll. He will send a list of employers to Maggie and Larry. (NOTE: Since the meeting, Bob has sent them the list.)
Maggie Vishneau and Larry Ullian (Muskie School) discussed their outreach to employers, which includes information that highlights the value or recruiting and retraining older workers. They distributed a curriculum matrix and work plan. They will want to compare results in one part of the state with another. They’re using trade associations to reach employers in targeted industries, and they will also go to Rotary Clubs and similar organizations to talk with employers about older workers. Dan said that he went to a Mobilize Maine meeting and many employers were there. He added that these employers regularly attend and encourage unsolicited advice any time.
Debbie added that AWI has targeted 3000 participants for Seasoned Worker training. Bob suggested that AWI target employers for showcasing the skills and knowledge of older workers. John asked if the AWI will be able to identify employers in the near future.
Ruth Pease volunteered that there’s an opportunity to provide more labor market data through the Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI). She said that currently the only areas showing new hires are health care and health care education. She advised that asking CWRI the right questions will help the Center come up with the best data and solutions.
OWC Work Plan “Collaborating with businesses…” John addressed the need to ensure that staff people are available at CareerCenters. He feels that the AWI addresses this, but none of the CareerCenters have resources to add more staff. On the other hand, thanks to Recovery Act (ARRA) funds, there are currently a few new staff available to provide services to businesses. “Educate employers…” Comments were made that many employers are currently able to hire anyone but most are amenable to flexible arrangements. “Recruit employers for the Older Worker Committee…” John will take a look at Bob’s list of employers and start contacting them. “Silver Collar Campaign…” the AWI has this on its work plan John suggested that the Older Worker Committee function as the advisory committee for the Silver Collar Campaign. Brochures The Committee recommended various revisions to the two brochures on older workers, Maine’s Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges and Older Worker Resource Guide. The brochures will be posted on the internet and some will be printed for distribution at events. The Committee suggested that 4000 be printed for the navigators and 1000 more for others.
Committee Staff Update Peaches informed the Committee that she will be meeting with Jim Caston and Kathy Poulin, both of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Elder Services, to discuss handing off the staffing responsibilities to Jim. (NOTE: Since the meeting, Garret Oswald and Peaches have met with Kathy and Jim. All are agreed that Jim will assume staffing responsibilities effective with the February 23 meeting.)
Ruth Graves asked if any of the 20+ gubernatorial candidates are addressing older workers. Jim McGrath answered that John Richardson had shown some interest a couple years ago.
Dan inquired about having SCSEP positions posted with the Job Bank Central. John replied that it has been the practice to only list full time jobs, but this isn’t practical for SCSEP positions. He volunteered to discuss this with Mel Arsenault, Director of the Bureau of Employment Services. (NOTE: Since the meeting, John has followed up and received approval for the Job Bank to post SCSEP positions, and he has informed Dan Muth of the same.)
Next Meetings Tuesday February 23, 2010 1:30 -3:30 PM Frances Perkins B conference room Tuesday April 27, 2010 1:30 -3:30 PM Frances Perkins B conference room