MASSTMature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training (employment service)
MASSTMetro Area Support for Survivors of Torture (New York and New Jersey)
MASSTMath and Science Secondary Teacher (training program; Columbus State University; Columbus, GA)
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In areas not served by one of the three grantees, MASST services are available through the 24 Job Centers throughout the state.
The need for a program like MASST is especially acute with an aging work force, said Nelson.
Because MASST pays participant wages, the public and nonprofit agencies involved in training benefit from the free labor.
"It really is an important aspect in the nonprofit community," said Leslie Wheeler, former MASST participant and current executive director of the Mid-Valley Senior Center in Houston.
One of the hurdles MASST works to overcome is the notion that older workers are a liability rather than an asset.
Almost daily, I hear comments from organizations that support the MASST program and they tell me how much they love having a mature worker as an employee."
The retention rate of MASST trainees speaks to the quality of their work: about 40 percent are eventually hired by the agency that trains them.
"A lot of people are transitioning from jobs like construction, food service or fisheries, and want or need to have a change in job at 55," said Rita Bowen, statewide MASST program coordinator.
In addition to concrete skills like computer use, the MASST program also can offer emotional support to older workers facing a big transition.
I think that's what the MASST program does, it gives you an opportunity to see your own value."
Five months after entering the MASST program, Wheeler was hired as executive director of the Mid-Valley Senior Center.