Many Americans are working well past the traditional retirement age of 65, into their 70s and 80s. Over the coming decade, workers 55 years and older will be the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, gifting our communities with the opportunity to learn and grow from their years of professional experience. 

At the San Diego Workforce Partnership, we know that everyone deserves an opportunity to achieve meaningful employment, regardless of age, zip code, background or anything else. By not hiring those who are 60 and older we’re leaving a key talent pool behind, as well as their valuable skills, which hurts businesses and the economy.

The Work

In fiscal year 2021, we piloted the Aging Workforce Program to help older people connect to job opportunities and get back to work. The program offered skill-building workshops and refresher courses on digital literacy, resume writing, interview techniques, networking and leveraging LinkedIn. Successful participants had the opportunity for a paid 150-hour “returnship”—an internship for workers 60 and older wanting to return to the workforce—with a local employer. 

The program’s inspiration came from San Diego Seniors Community Foundation CEO & president Bob Kelly, who approached the Workforce Partnership with an idea to offer job training out of local senior centers. “The need for employment resources for older people is an issue that hasn’t received the attention it deserves,” said Kelly. “We are eager to help the Workforce Partnership develop new ideas to change that.” 

San Diego Seniors Community Foundation connected the Workforce Partnership with local senior centers and secured funding from the Sahm Family Foundation for a pilot program that launched in October 2020. In addition, funding from the California Workforce Development Board allowed us to expand our workshop offerings for participants. 


As of the conclusion of program year 2021, we hosted a total of 100 workshops on topics inclusive of resume workshopping, utilizing LinkedIn, networking and digital literacy. These workshops were attended by 51 unique individuals, with many participants attending several topics. 

By the conclusion of the pilot, we placed 27 participants in employment. Fifteen of these participants utilized the subsidy offered by the program and 12 participants achieved permanent employment directly.