Some might call the Mature Worker Connection (MWC) an employment agency for adults over 50. Dan Toth, 57, calls it “a lifesaver.”
When Toth moved to Arizona after retiring from 33 years with the Colorado state government, he says he never stopped to think that “when you move, you don’t take your infrastructure with you. There I was in Tucson—and I don’t even play golf!—and I was waiting for an employer to call me.”
Instead of sitting by the phone, Toth attended a job fair sponsored by the Mature Worker Connection and found a full-time second career as the recruitment manager for a local youth literacy program. “It’s incredibly motivating,” he says. “I love heading out to work in the morning.”
Launched in January 2006 in Tucson, MWC is an innovative, free job placement service for people over 50. In just one year of operation, the nonprofit agency got 196 local employers to list jobs, processed 569 job applicants and placed 201 of them. One-third of the applicants placed (67 of the 201) found jobs in the nonprofit or public sectors.
“We’re more than just a placement service. We’re an advocate. Our goal is to make our job seekers more marketable,” says Roger Forrester, MWC’s founder and administrator. To that end, MWC staff and volunteers meet individually with all job seekers, assess their skills and interests, provide referrals to training centers when needed and then work to place them in jobs.
In addition, MWC works to educate employers and, explains Forrester, “explode the myths about older workers. Many employers had the misguided notion that older workers were too expensive or didn’t know the new technology—things like that. Our workers proved them wrong.”
A wide variety of nonprofit employers have listed jobs with MWC, including Pima Community College, the University of Arizona, a clinic for people with AIDS, Habitat for Humanity, elder care organizations, and a number of small nonprofits. To attract more job listings in this sector, MWC is working with groups like the Arizona Alliance of Nonprofits.
Maude Shingler, business manager for Interfaith Community Services in Pima County, has hired two MWC applicants and says he would hire more. “There’s much to be said for employees who’ve ‘been there, done that.’ There’s no learning curve and these employees can work with little or no supervision. It’s a win-win situation for us as well as the employees.”
Forrester, 65, is himself in an encore career. After a long stint as a human resources director at the University of Minnesota, Forrester retired and moved to Pima County. He found that many of his new friends and neighbors over 50 were interested in finding jobs but didn’t know how to go about it. In 2003 Forrester began to shop around the idea for an employment agency dedicated to helping them.
With encouragement and support from Jim Murphy, corporate relations director at the Pima Council on Aging, Forrester conducted focus groups with employers; developed a business plan; raised money from local, state, and private foundations; secured in-kind donations from the City of Tucson and Pima County; and recruited volunteers.
MWC opened with a special emphasis on serving women, minorities and low-income adults. Already, discussions are under way to expand, reach more women and inner-city residents, develop more partnerships with employers and service providers, and create mature worker job clubs.
For more information, contact Roger Forrester at firstname.lastname@example.org, (520) 623-3304.