Job Search May Present Challenge for Those over 50

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JEFFERSON CITY - After a 37-year career ended with a plant shut down and a lay off, Marsha Koetting went back to school at age 62.

"I had a choice of going out and finding a job or getting more education because the computer world is very, very big and I had very small talent in it," said Koetting.

Theresa Hammann, 49, made a similar decision after a fruitless job search when she decided to change careers after working 18 years at a veterinary clinic.

"When I left my last job, I searched for probably about a year and I couldn't find anything," said Hammann.

A spokeswoman for Moberly Area Community College (MACC) said Koetting and Hammann are not alone.

There have been a number of local industries that have closed in the last few years during the economic downturn, according to MACC Career and Technical Education Dean Jo Fey.

"A lot of those people were highly skilled in that job and had been there for years and then they come out and suddenly, their skills are no longer necessary and they need new skill training," said Fey.

Koetting said she worked in an office during her long career, but changes in computer technology might have limited her skills in today's job market without new training.

"For 28 of those 37 years I was in the office and the warehouse shipping motors. That's what Vasco did. We made motors," said Koetting.

A recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 40 percent of those 50 and older felt they lacked the right skills to get a job. Forty-three percent thought their age would play a factor in their getting hired.

KOMU 8 News decided to see what other mid-Missourians thought about these statistics by posting on Facebook.

"I think it's hard to find a job right now period, add in being older or overweight and it becomes almost impossible," said Dawn Whitlow Pehle.

Others felt younger people are struggling to find jobs as well.

"I believe that younger people have problems, too," said Joyce Keilholz-Schofield.

But a mid-Missouri woman who recruits people for certain jobs believes age is not a factor when it comes to getting hired.

Job Finders Employment Services President Anne Williams said it's more about the attitude behind the experience.

"Last week I put a person to work that was way over 50 and it's because they were thrilled and ready to do the job," said Williams.

According to Williams, if you're physically fit and put on the persona of wanting to work, age isn't a problem.

"I just want something simple, not a big company like I came from, just something small and intimate and I could just work there," said Koetting.

Both Moberly Area Community College and Metro Business College offer refresher courses for those who wish to update their job skills.