Lack of computer skills hinders older job seekers in PBC

Unemployment rate hovers above 9%

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - There are new struggles for older Americans trying to find work. In this technology-driven world, many job seekers cannot navigate their way through the application process, let alone land a steady job.

Miriam Cheralus needs a job, any job. But to find work, she needs to go online to apply. Using the internet for a job search is something she has never done in her life. "With so much going through my mind, I lost it," said Cheralus.

Cheralus, 65, is one of many local people nearing retirement age with virtually no computer skills; which is an essential part of applying for a job in 2012. She has tried finding work in-person but she has always been told by prospective employers that landing a job now rarely happens face to face.

"They would quickly tell you to go online," she said. "You have to turn away sad because maybe they have the application but they just want you to go online and fill it out."

The Riviera Beach resident turned to Workforce Alliance of Palm Beach county to turn her job search around. Many of the job seekers at the West Palm Beach office have no idea what to do when they sit down at one of the computer kiosks.

Sonja Jones, a Career Consultant at Workforce Alliance, is helping to guide Cheralus through the online job application process.

"That's the world that we live in," said Jones, who shows clients how to use the internet for job searching but does not do the searching for them. "They feel inadequate and they feel like 'I should know how to do this', but they don't," said Jones.

With Palm Beach County's unemployment rate hovering at 9.2% in June, Workforce Alliance continues to offer basic computer skill classes.

"Probably more frustrating for the people who have not been on a job search for ten or twelve years because it's a wake up call for them," said Patrick Cannan, Communications Manager. "It's so different now than it was at that time," he said.

Chelarus wants to learn more so she can earn more in this tech-driven world. "If you put your mind to it, you can learn it," she said.

For more information about the skills classes offered by Workforce Alliance of Palm Beach County, click here .

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