Goodwill examining ways to employ older workers

June 20, 2013 

Goodwill Manasota is putting 177 area seniors back in the workforce while serving the needs of community employers at the same time.

"Older Americans want and need to remain in the workplace past traditional retirement age," said Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. "Those lacking jobs face a particularly tough time finding new positions."

He cites a number of factors, including the economic downturn, disappearing retirement funds and more people living longer and enjoying healthier lives.

"More senior citizens can and want to work these days," says Rosinsky. "But there are fewer jobs available."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people ages 55 years and older has increased sharply since the beginning of the recession in 2007. By 2010, workers who are 55 years and older experienced an average duration of joblessness of 35.5 weeks before they found gainful employment.

"That's not just an empty statistic," says Rosinsky. "At Goodwill Manasota, more than 23 percent of our employees are over the age of 55 (177 employees out of 759). Our two oldest employees are 93 and 83. And the Centergate Bookstore on Bee Ridge Road has the highest number of team members over 70 years old."

There are a number of senior success stories at Goodwill Manasota -- and they all have names. Dick Morgan, 93, has worked for Goodwill for more than 38 years. He started out as a store manager and worked his way up to vice president. Today, Morgan is Goodwill Manasota's image consultant, a role he gladly performs when he travels to all 44 Goodwill Manasota locations to inspect them.

"I love Goodwill," said Morgan. "And I will be here for as long they will have me."

A mixed-age approach works well at Goodwill Manasota but it's not standard operating procedure in America's workforce.

"We need a thoughtfully conceived strategy supported by dialogue, research and the willingness to look at older workers in new ways," Rosinsky said. "Seniors want to give more. If we work together, we can make it happen."

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