New Jersey is helping older workers get a leg-up in today's challenging job market. 

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Under New Jersey's WorkForce 55+ program, older, financially disadvantaged Garden Staters are getting valuable and paid on-the-job training in an effort to help them land a permanent position. The first round of classes in the federally funded program recently graduated.

The program gives participants basic computer skills, resume writing, interviewing techniques, social media and financial literacy.

"The program is designed to offer older workers who are financially disadvantaged an opportunity for paid, on-the-job training and a chance at developing work experience that will lead to unsubsidized employment and sustainable jobs. In this case, we have additionally given them skills we know will help in securing a job," said state Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths in an emailed press release Monday.

The WorkForce 55+ Program is a joint effort between the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the New Jersey Community College Consortium to train roughly 250 candidates from 13 Garden State counties at 10 community colleges.

"We gave an introduction to social media. We taught them how to create a LinkedIn profile," said Patricia Moran, director of Workforce Grants and Program Management for LWD. "We also went through commonly asked interview questions. They did role-playing in interviewing."

The program helps bridge the skills gap among those 55 and older.

"Many of them were working in the same job that they got 30 years ago when they walked in, filled out a piece of paper and then they landed a job. To get them on to sustainable employment we had to be able to give them some basic technology skills," Moran said.

For information about the program, go to and click on the "Older Workers" link.