Gray Power: Passion fueled by desire to help

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2007

After retiring three times, starting a new business was a major goal and aspiration that required a great deal of consideration. Involved as an AARP volunteer, I have a passion to help mature workers in pursuing their desire and/or need to continue to work as they redefine their future.

After a career of 43 years in vocational and technical education, which included working with business and industry, apprenticeship training, development of business consortiums, and corporate college concept, I first got involved with AARP as a volunteer in Shelby County. The Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce&8217;s workforce development task force gave me an opening into understanding the needs in the Birmingham area for workers. Networking became an instrument of rubbing shoulders with business leaders and led to the directorship on the Jefferson County WIA Career Center.

Serving on the Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority and Leadership Shelby County has allowed me to better understand the economic conditions and workforce needs of Shelby County and the Birmingham regional area.

As the tenure ended with the Jefferson County WIA Career Center, I searched for opportunities to continue my desire to work with business and industry to develop a high performance workforce. Becoming a strategic partner of Profiles International gave me the tools to pursue my passion of meeting my goals in workforce development. Profiles International had the tools that intrigued my interests. These assessments ranged from pre-employment, benchmarking, coaching, job analysis, customer service profiles, performance indicators, team analysis, sales indicators and management evaluation with skill builders. In developing my website,, I have expanded my site to include articles developed for job seeking skills and employer knowledge of the benefits of hiring and retaining older workers. As a service, the site has been expanded to include links to agencies and organizations that can assist older workers, like myself, in pursuing their dreams and goals.

This endeavor allowed me to continue my efforts in working with older workers as I am a guest columnist with the Shelby County Reporter, Gray Power, Senior Living and newspapers. As an advocate for senior workers, I also volunteer for Employment Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR), which works with companies to help transition military returning from duty. Presently, I am assisting the Jefferson County Office of Senior Citizens Services as a job developer for their Senior Worker Employment Training Program.

Persistence is the key for mature workers because age discrimination is alive and well in the employment field. Many employers discount the value of mature workers in the future. As the &8220;Baby Boomers&8221; continue to re-enter the workforce, the complexion of the workforce will change and welcome the values presented by the older worker.

Dr. Marvin Copes, located in Maylene, is an Education and Community Service Volunteer for AARP Alabama. He can be reached by e-mail at