"Looked over by employers" North Dakota's elderly employment opportunities

North Dakota’s elderly population comprise a segment of the United States population that account for roughly 5% of the unemployment rate, according to the North Dakota Job Services. Many of these individuals are 55 and older, have no financial support from family and are looking for ways to re-enter or remain in the workforce. Two entities are seeking to tackle this problem.

Many North Dakotans who are 55 and older, have no financial support from family and are looking for ways to re-enter or remain in the workforce. (Dickinson Press file photo)

The National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA), a national nonprofit organization, in conjunction with the United States’ Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) are teaming up in an effort to change these statistics — even in Dickinson.

Through grants being provided by the US Department of Labor under the authority of the Older American Act of 1965, the group provides the training and skills required to get mature, dependable individuals back out into the community.

“While many people think of older adults as retirees, the truth is millions of Americans aged 55 and over work full or part-time jobs every day,” an NICOA press release said. “According to the National Council on Aging, the reasons they work are varied, but for many it’s a matter of necessity to remain financially secure and independent.”

Founded in the 1960’s under the name of Green Thumb, the NICOA and SCSEP provide paid training to low-income seniors 55 and older. With the ability to work remotely their services are provided throughout North Dakota with Participant Assistants located in Bismarck, Fargo, Mandan, Minot, Dickinson and Cooperstown, these individuals help elderly North Dakotans receive the training they need to be successful in a modern workforce.

Sarah Piersol, program manager at NICOA, shared a story about a gentleman in Hannaford, ND, who at the age of 90, re-entered the workforce.


Piersol said that with the assistance received through the program, he entered the lawn care technician position he loved, where before the opportunity would have eluded him.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that many of these individuals face discrimination because of their age,” she said. “They are looked over by employers for many jobs that they are fully capable of doing.”

The program is not limited to Native Americans or Indigenous communities and is open to all residents regardless of gender, mental or physical disability, race, national origin, religion or sexual orientation.

The NIOCA consider elderly employees as a benefit for many businesses, as the individuals are often reliable and valuable resources for small businesses.

Those interested in talking with a Participant Assistant about re-entering or remaining in the workforce can learn more about this program by calling 701-314-5100. You can also text NIOCA to 56512, or visit

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