Age No Barrier to Employment for KRA Customers: Part 1

Upon meeting Cynthia, Verndell, and Rhonda, they may appear to have little in common: two are single and have no children, and one is married with 3 children.  Occupationally, one is finishing up a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, one is dedicated to the Nursing profession, and the other’s passion is Accounting.  Also, customary gross earnings for the three women range from $60-to-$155 a day, approximately.

However, upon getting to know a little more about them, similarities emerge: all reside in the Waccamaw Region of South Carolina, were in need of workforce development services, and were deemed eligible to enroll in the SCWorks Career Centers’ WIA Program*.  The last observable similarity is perhaps the most striking: all were over the age of 50 when they enrolled in the Program!   In fact, one was at an age when some might be considering part- or full-time retirement!!  Cynthia’s inspiring story is below, with Verndell’s and Rhonda’s to be featured in our next two articles.

Cynthia Sweeney…52, single, no children…enrolled in the KRA/SCWorks Program in 2010.  She was already working in the Accounting field, but realized that without a degree, she had reached her personal “glass ceiling” in the industry.  Cynthia shared her situation with Joseph Watson, KRA Career Agent: she wanted to move up in her current company, or move on to a higher position with another firm.  Either way, she needed a degree, but did not have the funds to attend college.  Together, they mapped out an Individual Employment Plan (IEP), which included taking and analyzing a battery of  assessment tests (aptitude, basic skills, interests, etc.) to confirm that Cynthia’s IEP would definitely ensure ultimate career success.

Through the acquisition of an Individual Training Account, Watson secured funds for her education with a WIA-approved institution, Horry-Georgetown Technical College  (HGTC).  Cynthia enrolled in May 2010, and while pursuing her studies, participated in Career Coaching/Guidance sessions, as well as Job Skills Workshops, attending classes  in Resume Development, Interview Preparation, Dress-For-Success, etc.  Watson also accessed Supportive Services’ funding for Cynthia to defray the cost of getting to and from HGTC.

Eighteen months later, in December 2012, Cynthia proudly received her Associate in Applied Science in Accounting degree. According to the HGTC website, “This program is designed to prepare students for a career in both the public and private sectors of this important field.  An Accounting degree will give you the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you need…in many sectors of the business world.  While some of the courses in the Accounting degree program transfer to a senior institution, this degree is not designed as a “transfer” degree, but, rather, is a career degree that prepares you for direct employment.

Watson concluded, “That is exactly what the HGTC program did for Cynthia!  And, utilizing all of the ‘tools’ she had developed here through the SCWorks’ Program, Cynthia found employment, on her own, the same month she graduated.  She is currently working as an Assistant Corporate Controller! The KRA/Waccamaw Region team wishes Cynthia continued success, and is very pleased to have been of assistance to her.”

*Funded by the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, and operated by KRA Corporation, this WIA Program for Adult/Dislocated Workers and In-School/Out-of-School Youth encompasses a tri-county area, providing comprehensive workforce services for Regional jobseeker-and employer-customers.  Adhering to a sector-driven strategy that targets service businesses in high-growth industries, the SCWorks Career Centers provide recruitment, screening, referral, follow-up, and retention services tailored to the needs of private- and public-sector employers in the Region. WIA support services include interest, aptitude, and personality assessment; skills upgrading through occupational training and OJTs; career coaching, counseling, and guidance; instructional job-search technique workshops; job referral, placement and retention; and referrals to community partnering agencies.

The Youth Services component of the operation provides a comprehensive year-round program for disadvantaged young people facing significant barriers to employment.  Workplace-readiness services include interest, math, and reading assessment; GED preparation; job application/interviewing skills; and intensive career counseling.