For example, America has a growing number of retirees or senior citizens. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), a number of these citizens (including many so-called “Aging Boomers”) do not want to be retired. In fact, they find retirement to be a very difficult and uncomfortable way of life that decreases independence and leads to feelings of uselessness. A great number of these seniors would welcome the opportunity to learn a new skill so they can return to productive, professional pursuits. Similarly, retired business people would be equipped to act as “consultants” for minority and women owned businesses that many times struggle or fail due to the lack of adequate mentoring and support. This is hardly the level of gratitude that we should bestow on what many have called “The Greatest Generation”.
By employing the UTEC system, city leaders and civic-minded professionals can right this injustice by offering fitting praise for seniors given the many sacrifices they have made over the decades so that we can enjoy the land of the free and the home of the brave. We should acknowledge what might best be described as “old school” logic (i.e., independence and economic empowerment is critical to the community well-being at all time and at all ages) that is, in many ways, absent in today’s society. Now, instead of seeking solutions, we rely on the blame game. The UTEC plan would re-invigorate these life-long, veteran problem solvers back into whatever today’s equation is for handling difficult situations by its inclusion of seniors to actively serve as consultants, counselors and job developers. Other seniors may be candidates for skills training and/or job placement depending on the results of their UTEC evaluations and assessments.
The UTEC for seniors also would forge alliances with other senior-based organizations that seek to promote aging with dignity and purpose. For example, several organizations, like AARP, the National Caucus and Center for the Black Aged, and the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, have access to referrals sources through programs like the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The SCSEP provides opportunities for eligible people age 55 and over to obtain new job knowledge, enhance their skills and feel confident in their new found abilities. The goal of the program is for enrollees to gain the skills they need to find and sustained employment in the workforce.
According to a 2007 study by the D.C. Office on Aging, there are nearly 100,000 seniors, aged 60 and older, residing in the District of Columbia. Forty-five (45%) of this demographic live alone and require some public assistance to sustain some measure of dignity and independence as they advance in years. It stands to reason that consistent re-evaluation of this “system of service” must be constantly scrutinized (and when appropriate, modified) to maintain the highest degree of educational impact and relevance. Skill training to qualify for gainful employment, now more than ever, by and through an agency that specializes in jobs skills training and job placement is absolutely imperative to fill this critical need. UTEC is that agency.
Rawle Andrews Jr., Esq.
President-elect of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.
Contact No. 202 492-0256