Empowering Older Workers Through Rapid Reskilling

The City of Alexandria Workforce Development Center (WDC) helps many older Alexandrians remain resilient and get back to work.

By Linda Gilmore and Emilia Turcios

Alexandria, VA – According to a Virginia Employment Commission job market report, Alexandria unemployment claims continue to rise. In December, the number of new claims nearly doubled to 938 from 559 the month before, a key indicator of the pandemic’s effect on the local labor market. The number of claims by Alexandrians aged 50 and over spiked to 215, an increase of 84% compared to November, highlighting the significant impact of unemployment on this age group.

The City of Alexandria Workforce Development Center (WDC) helps many older Alexandrians remain resilient and get back to work. Its Strive & Thrive initiative provides resources such as skills workshops, one-on-one job coaching, and guidance to financial resources so job seekers can raise their game and remain competitive.

As part of the initiative, WDC recently launched the Rapid Reskilling Cohort, a six-week program designed to assist 50+ jobseekers. The cohort helps job seekers through free and unlimited access to more than 5,000 high-quality online training courses using the SkillUp® Alexandria & Arlington County web tool. The cohort also uses the pack’s collective knowledge and wisdom during weekly meetings to share experiences and motivate each other while receiving coaching and tailored job leads from a certified workforce development professional dedicated to meeting the 50+ job seeker’s unique needs.

“I was honored to participate in the Alexandria Workforce Center Rapid Reskilling Cohort for 50+ this past year,” says a 50+ cohort member with a background in information technology. “It was a great opportunity to get access to valuable training and commune and share with others in a similar situation in this unique job market. I highly recommend participation regardless of your industry or professional background. I am also glad to report that I have recently accepted an offer from a great company.”

The Rapid Reskilling Cohort is designed to create a community where participants learn and receive support together. “After a successful career over three decades, the pandemic left me in a long and lonely search for a job,” says another cohort participant. “Then the City of Alexandria Workforce Development Center invited me to a Rapid Reskilling Cohort.

“They provided us with best practices for re-writing our resume, for sharpening our LinkedIn profile, for interviewing over ZOOM, for keeping our wits about the whole process. We got access to an online training platform with a terrific selection of up-to-date and top-notch courses, professional certification prep tracks, and knowledge tests.”

As the program evolves, WDC is leveraging staff and partner resources to continue engaging group and one-to-one strategies to help qualified 50+ job applicants have an optimal chance for rapid re-employment.

“The cherry on top was the boost of confidence that we were injected with at the last session. Several WDC staff members, a Workforce Commissioner, and a local entrepreneur regaled us with a speed-date-like marathon of individual practice job interviews,” concludes the cohort member.

For more information about the 50+ Rapid Reskilling Cohort, job search coaching, and employment services, visit alexandriava.gov/WorkforceDevelopment or contact the 50+ Program at wdc@alexandriava.gov.

WDC, a proud partner of the American Job Center network and certified One-Stop Center, offers workforce recruitment solutions for businesses plus training, development, and employment related resources for job seekers.

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