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Success of ‘Finding Work’ event at Willow Creek prompts follow-up

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More than 150 attendees descended upon the Willow Creek Center on Dec. 8 to participate in “Finding Work @50+,” a nearly all-day forum hosted by AARP Oregon and several community partners including Portland Community College.

Free and open to the public, the workshop was geared toward mid-life job seekers, a population among the hardest hit in the country’s current economic crisis. And with more than 100 on the wait list, AARP and its partners have decided to offer a second forum on Jan. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon, again at the Willow Creek Center.

More than 150 attendees packed the hall at the Willow Creek Center on Dec. 8 for the “Finding Work @ 50+” workshop, hosted by AARP Oregon and PCC.

“For the past three years AARP Oregon has sponsored workshops to help people 50-plus make their job search more strategic,” said Joyce DeMonnin, Public Outreach director for AARP Oregon.

“Our research shows that when older workers lose jobs, they are out of work longer than other workers. We’re helping older workers put their best face forward and showcase all the ways they make excellent employees,” she said.

Topics addressed in a variety of presentations, panels, and breakout sessions included strategies to make the job search more effective; “spiffing” up resumes; surviving the job hunt; and boosting interview skills. Participants also received job search informational packets with resources and tips.

Daniel Rodriguez – an AARP Oregon volunteer who spent 30 years working in education before re-careering to become a human resources recruiter – offered the keynote address: “Job Hunting Skills: Resumes, Interviews and the 30-second story.” He was followed by Malcolm Boswell, a workforce analyst with Oregon State Employment Department, who spoke on “Where the Jobs Are.”

Departments and divisions from PCC that were involved in the event planning – or that hosted breakout sessions or participated in panel discussions – were gerontology and Workforce and Economic Development, as well as Life By Design NW, now part of the college’s CLIMB Center for Advancement.

Daniel Rodriguez, AARP Oregon volunteer, gives the keynote address at “Finding Work @50+.”

Karen Shimada, program manager of Life By Design NW, said that since 2008 the program has partnered with AARP and other community organizations, to work with “baby boomers” in transition.

“This month’s workshop was a wonderful exercise in helping individuals, 50 and older, to navigate the often uphill road to employment, re-careering and finding their ‘encore’ career,” said Shimada.

Life By Design NW hosted a breakout session that addressed a variety of topics related to its signature course, “Discover, Design, Engage” – “ageless” resumes, skills-based volunteering, social entrepreneurism, strengths assessment, resources for encore careers and more.

“This was such a high-energy and upbeat group of participants, eager to get pointers and resources,” said Jan Abushakrah, gerontology faculty department chair, who is based at the Sylvania Campus and was integral to the event planning.

“Portland Community College plays a key role in workforce development and services for people over the age of 50 looking for training and employment. We’re thrilled with the interest in this month’s event,” said Abushakrah, “and are delighted we can host a second round on Jan. 10.”

For more information or to register for the Jan. 10 forum, call toll-free: 1-877-926-8300.

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