In tight job market, agency sets sights on older workers

A Reno-based staffing agency is launching a new division aimed at older workers a potential jackpot for employers desperate for qualified, dependable employees.

The new division of Career Choices, a staffing agency and licensed vocational school, will focus on the training and placement needs of workers over 50.

"Older workers have so much to bring to the table," says Nancy Rumburg, an owner of Career Choices. She should know. Four of the six employees at Career Choices are over 60, including Rumburg, who is 65.

With ultra-low unemployment in northern Nevada, it's tough to find qualified candidates. Baby boomers at or near retirement age could become an increasingly valuable labor pool.

Although they may want to step away from high-stress careers, many baby boomers don't want to retire completely, Rumburg says. Some need to work for financial reasons, while others want to work for the camaraderie and stimulation.

Tina Grefrath, manager of JobConnect offices in the region, says she hasn't yet seen large numbers of baby boomers returning to the workforce. "But I think this is a trend, and I don't think it's very far away," she says.

Rumburg says starting the new division aimed at older workers is a way to set the agency apart from others and grow the business.

Grefrath says it's a smart move. "Once it gets rolling, there will be market for it. Baby boomers are still fairly young and capable of working."

For employers, Grefrath says, age is not an issue. "Skills are an issue, and attitude is an issue."

Many older workers don't want full-time work, Rumburg says, which can be a benefit to employers who don't necessarily need full-time employees.

Career Choices specializes in training and placement of clerical and administrative workers in industries that include legal, medical construction, financial and insurance. It places candidates in temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire positions, including for part-time work and short-term projects.

In launching the division, the agency is informing its employer clients and developing training and assessment tools geared to seniors. A 10-point employability checklist, for instance, helps determine a candidate's readiness to reenter the workforce. The list includes such items as technology skills, attitude and overall image.

As a licensed vocational school, the agency offers training courses for workers of all ages. It also is developing training relevant to seniors, such as how to update one's appearance for today's workplace, how to work with a younger boss and younger coworkers and how to adapt to change.

The agency will conduct a "Not Your Normal Job Fair" June 14 for anyone interested in getting a job, regardless of age. The fair will feature free skill assessments, help with resumes, interviews and information about training and job openings. Call 826-2555 for information.


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