Older Workers Are Still Needed
Podraza, Eloise, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Eloise Podraza Daily Herald Correspondent
About 40 area businesses attest that "older" means "valuable" by participating in Friday's Older Workers Job Fair at the DuPage County Complex in Wheaton.
Indeed, sponsors Pro Staff Personnel Services, Northeast Illinois Area Agency on Aging, Illinois Department on Aging and DuPage Job Training Office say silver-haired prospects usually become solid gold employees.
"They're the best workers in the world. That's why I went after them to fill jobs in the first place," said Shari Law, Pro Staff area sales manager. "They have the best work ethic, knowledge, experience, common sense and dedication."
Law approached the DuPage County Job Training Office searching for seasoned workers. This recruiting effort metamorphosed into the first fair four years ago. Now it's become an annual event and has shown steady growth.
More and more business people want a crack at attracting some "wonderful employees," defined by Law as the young-old from ages 55 to 65, and the middle-old from ages 66 to 74.
"We've gained a half-dozen employers for each year we've had the fair. They're finding out how valuable the older worker is, and the fair keeps gaining more credibility and respect," Law said, adding that more than 350 older workers attended the exposition last year.
Many found employment or, at least, boosted self-image when they saw there's a demand for savvy that's gained only through years lived.
Connie Kobitter, community relations manager for Northeast Illinois Area Agency on Aging, said word gets around, and she expects about 500 job-seekers to attend this year's fair.
"We'll have people coming who want full-time jobs as well as those who are looking to the future and retirement when they want temporary, flexible or part-time jobs. Also, some older workers who are presently employed just want to come and see what other opportunities are out there."
For instance, Vancom Transportation provides much of the school bus service in DuPage County and does everything it can to place seniors in the driver's seat.
"We have a large number of senior drivers, especially between the ages of 55 and 65, who make the best employees. They're very conscientious, prompt, courteous, and students respect them," said Ann Blank, director of recruitment and communication.
Blank said Vancom makes adjustments so seniors can supplement their retirement incomes without being penalized.
"We call a group of drivers 'snow birds' because they can only make X amount of money per year. When they reach their limit, they stop working then come back to us in the new year. It works great for both them and us. …