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Bob Nadeau

‘Old school’ experience hasn’t led to employment

(Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)
November 11, 2010

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‘I’m 62 years old. I have no college education,’’ Bob Nadeau said. “I have life and work experience. I was a kick-bum kind of guy at work. No slackers worked for me. That’s how I moved up in business.’’

The Vietnam-era Navy veteran from Lynn was laid off from his $65,000-a-year job as a sales manager last year. He’s been collecting unemployment benefits and searching for jobs with little luck.

“I’m from the old school,’’ said Nadeau, who is married with grown children. “I’m afraid no one’s going to hire me.’’

Nadeau looks for jobs at the North Shore Career Center in Salem, where he works with Tom Frisiello, the veterans employment specialist.

“A lot of younger veterans now are opting for schooling,’’ said Frisiello, who has been counseling veterans since the 1970s. “It’s different for older veterans. In the past, they could go into a trade, or into manufacturing. Today, a lot of jobs require a higher level of education than many of them have.’’

Nadeau, who is proud of his six-year stint in Navy, isn’t sure veterans status makes much difference.

“In this economy?’’ he said with a sigh. “I don’t think it matters a hill of beans. This career center is inundated with people looking for jobs.’’

But he said he thinks veterans are a safe bet to be a good employee.

“We have a lot to offer,’’ said Nadeau. “If you do a job in the service, whatever the job description is, you do it well.’’

Nadeau, one of four children, joined the Navy in 1965 after working a series of odd jobs around his hometown of Salem. He got his first job at age 14 shining shoes, and dropped out of vocational high school to help support his family. His father was disabled and his mother worked two jobs. He enlisted at a Navy recruiting office on Essex Street in Salem. After boot camp, his first deployment was to the Mediterranean for six months.

“I was always steaming,’’ he said. “I learned a lot about the world.’’

After his discharge, Nadeau returned to work in a Salem shoe factory, before joining a plastics company. He worked his way up from maintenance to purchasing manager. In 2006, he left the company to join a start-up competitor in Peabody. In June 2006, Nadeau left the company to work for a New Jersey-based competitor, which laid him off on Dec. 31, 2009, he said.

He has looked for jobs in security and transportation, but with no luck. He’s now doing a volunteer internship at a Chelsea transport company, which he hopes will lead to full employment.

“You can’t go wrong hiring a vet,’’ he said.

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