EWI Award Presented to Natalie Shaft


The Experienced Worker Initiative award is given to an individual in Western North Carolina for outstanding leadership in promoting engagement of adults age 50+ in the workforce continuum, including volunteer work, stipend-based training, and/or part-time and full-time employment.  We are pleased to announce our second recipient is Natalie Shaft of Biltmore Farms.
Natalie Shaft’s demonstrated leadership in promoting engagement of adults 50+ in the workplace is outstanding and consistent.  During the economic recovery after the 2008 Great Recession, the NC Works Career Center noted that adults 50+ were experiencing longer periods of unemployment and bigger challenges in finding meaningful work.   An “Experienced Worker Job Fair” was developed.  It was important to find employers who were committed to interviewing and hiring 50+ workers.  Natalie, with Biltmore Farms, was one of the first to sign up.  Job Fair attendees reported that her insight and willingness to help them and provide information was invaluable.   Since that first job fair, Natalie, with Biltmore Farms, has continually participated in similar events, including the “Experienced Worker Talent Jam” and the “Asheville 50+ Job Fair”.
Along with participating in “Experienced Worker” events, Natalie has also worked to educate 50+ workers about hiring practices and help them develop job search skills for success.  Her volunteer efforts began at NC Works by conducting mock interviews with 50+ job seekers.  Then, three years ago, AARP, A-B Tech and the NC Works Career Center Asheville formed a partnership to offer a program called Back to Work 50+.  The program provides career guidance and job search skills to 50+ workers.  Natalie was one of the first to sign on to present a workshop and she has continued to help the program through all five cohorts.   Her candid conversations with the participants help them understand the hiring process from a Human Resource perspective. Through her help, participants learn how to handle a wide range of job search challenges. 
Along with her work with job seekers, Natalie has also worked to educate other professionals in the wider community. She has willingly dedicated time and effort to present at conferences, such as at UNC Asheville, the Asheville 50+ Symposium, and the South Eastern Training Association (SETA) Conference. Natalie has the skill and ability to address the challenges and misperceptions from an employer’s perspective.  This is likely the most important aspect of Natalie’s leadership.  “Ageism” in the workforce continues to be very prevalent, according to a 2019 survey by AARP, that states that approximately “3 in 5 older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.”

Some people demonstrate leadership by talking about their topic.   A few not only “talk the talk”, they also “walk the talk”.   We are very fortunate that Natalie is one of those leaders who “walks the talk”, whether she is presenting to a large group of business or community professionals, or quietly assisting a job seeker.   
Thank you, Natalie Shaft – for all your leadership and promotion of the engagement of Experienced Workers in the workforce!