Fifteen years ago, when he was 16, Sandra Lanza’s son Mark, received his first job through Jewish Vocational Service. It was a summer position he landed with the help of a program then called “Project Gelt.” Now his mother is following Mark’s example and seeking help at JVS as well. “My son told me many years ago, ‘Mom, if you want to find a job, you have to learn computer skills.'” For Lanza, who is past 50, the age factor is a worry, not only because we live in a youth-oriented culture, but because the march of technology so quickly makes years of experience obsolete.
“Many people our age aren’t familiar with the computer,” she said. “I have friends who are afraid of it, and that’s a big drawback when you’re going for a job today.” Lanza herself, who has a background as a telemarketing manager and was laid off after six months from a job as a technical recruiter, has fairly good computer skills, but needed even more to pursue a career in human resources. At JVS, with aid from a new grant being offered to mature workers through Hillside Memorial Park, she took JVS Skills Plus classes in PowerPoint and Excel to help her be more competitive in her new field. PowerPoint taught her to make her own slide presentation, deciding on logos, font size, clip art and even sound effects. “It’s almost as much fun as sex,” she said.