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Home Depot seeks senior workers

The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Home Depot and the AARP are forming a national partnership to recruit people older than 50 to fill jobs at the world’s largest home improvement retailer.

The partnership, which was to be announced Friday, also will provide training and offer an easier application process.

“We have a need for qualified employees. We’re looking for people who have the experience, the skills, the knowledge and the passion,” said Dennis Donovan, Home Depot’s executive vice president for human resources.

Atlanta-based Home Depot has about 35,000 jobs opening up at its 175 new stores in 2004, Donovan said.

Under the agreement, the AARP will find and train the workers and will help them apply for the jobs, said the AARP’s Jim Seith. Home Depot will try to accommodate part-time schedules and varying skill levels.

“What Home Depot has said to mature workers is: We respect mature workers, and we want to hire them,” Seith said.

Home Depot and the AARP said there won’t be any specific preferences given to older workers over other qualified applicants. About 15 percent of Home Depot’s 300,000-person work force is currently more than 50 years old.

“We’ll put everybody through the same testing we put all applicants through,” Donovan said. “We’ll always hire the best, and that’s what we’re continuing to do.”

As baby boomers continue to age, there will be an increasing need for older workers to fill all the jobs that will come open, Seith said.

“There’s going to be a worker shortage, and mature workers are going to be a solution to that problem,” he said. “Home Depot figured that out.”

The partnership will benefit from the Department of Labor’s $75 million a year Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps people over 55 and under the poverty level get training to update their skills, redo their resumes and learn job skills.