By Victoria Addison
In today’s world, technology plays an important role in searching and applying for jobs—a process that can be difficult for older generations to navigate. But thanks to a grant from the Office of Children and Families’ Adult Education division, one organization is helping bridge the digital divide to turn online job hunting from an obstacle to an advantage.
Whether it’s accessing the Internet and sending emails, or using mobile apps and video chat, Generations on Line is working to teach older Philadelphians the skills necessary to connect with the many opportunities and resources available online.
“Digital access is absolutely critical, especially with the new ways technology is influencing older people’s lives,” said Tobey Dichter, the organization’s founder and CEO. “It isn’t just about jobs—it’s about health, family connection, and socialization, to fill that gap and provide digital equity for older people.”
Last year, the organization launched a new, free job-hunting tutorial to help seniors search the Internet for work and submit applications online. The tutorial, made possible by a $25,000 Adult Education Program Support Grant, helps prepare older adults to find job opportunities that match their interests and abilities, while also teaching the basic skills required to submit applications online.
“Most older Philadelphians are used to finding jobs through the ‘help wanted’ ads so if they’re retired now and want supplemental income, they don’t know how to get the job or how to find it and apply,” Dichter added. “Or even if they are computer literate, they might be timid about filling out forms online.”
Designed to be accessed remotely on tablets and mobile devices, the tutorial was inspired by Generations on Line’s facility-based desktop computer version, currently used in partnership with the Mayor’s Commission on Aging. With the City’s grant support, Generations on Line was able to adapt a mobile version to provide a more personalized experience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyone is working remotely now so we had to put this out and it’s been very well received,” said Dichter.
Dichter says the 2021 Adult Education Program Support grant was invaluable to the effort. “There was a new curriculum involved and that’s consultant work; there was design work involved and that’s outside people, so we could not have done this just using our reserves. Yet we knew the need was there and the City’s grant was really helpful.”
The Office of Children and Families, in coordination with Philadelphia Works, Inc., is now accepting applications for this year’s Adult Education Program Support Grants. This funding supports organizations that provide adult education services in Philadelphia.
“The learning collaborative from the City has people who are very interested in ensuring that no one is left behind,” said Dichter. “Any older person should seek whoever they can find to help them help themselves—you’re never too old and one way or another, there are people here who are reaching out to help.”
Grant applications will be accepted from now until Friday, April 15 and awarded on a rolling basis. A total of $247,500 will be awarded. The funding priorities for this new grant are to support providers to:
- Create a physical space that helps create a student-centered environment
- Provide learning tools and materials that are designed for use by adults.
- Support language access by translating program information and materials and using visual aids, where possible.
A virtual information session will be held on March 14 at 1 p.m. Interested applicants can register for the session here.