A new program aims to get seniors employed

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COLUMBIA - A new program is making its way across the country to offer older job seekers a unique way to gain skills they need to compete in today's job market. Experience Works will kick-off one of its newest programs in Columbia Tuesday, called the Blended Learning Training Program or BLTP.

Experience Works is a national nonprofit organization that currently operates the Senior Community Service Employment Program or SCSEP in 104 Missouri counties. The program provides part-time job skills training to low-income unemployed people age 55 or older to progress to a permanent job.

BLTP is a new, nine-week course centered around virtual instructor-led training courses, computer-based online training tools, and in person coaching. The online training tools complement the community service work experiences for SCSEP participants.

Shari Wooldridge the Missouri Employment and Training Coordinator for Experience Works said the program will help people get better equipped to find employment.

"It gets them use to being on a computer at a regular basis. For once they can access it all through the week which gives them more continuous practice each week," Wooldridge said.

During the program, participants will meet once a week for a"webinar" and then are provided a laptop and Internet access to do additional homework at home.

Wooldridge said for the first time with the program, participants will hear from national staff during meetings.

"There will be virtual webinar from national staff that we will tap into it from Columbia and three locations in Illinois and all watch it at the same time," Wooldridge said.

At the end of the program, participants will gain skills in customer service or as an office clerk.

Experience Works was awarded a $275,000 incentive grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund this new program, which will train 110 older workers during the year. Missouri is the fifth state to implement this new program.

Bryan University is hosting the kick-off event starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.