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Aging of the American Workforce: Trends, Opportunities, Challenges. 1. Why WIA/One-Stops Should Pay Attention to Older Workers 2. Why Employers Should be Concerned. It's A Demographic Revolution. IMPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYERS. The country is growing older, and the workforce along with it

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1. ChallengesWhy WIA/One-Stops Should Pay Attention to Older Workers

2. Why Employers Should be Concerned

Implications for employers

  • The country is growing older, and the workforce along with it

  • As the baby boom reaches retirement age, there will be fewer young adults entering the workforce to replace them

  • These trends will have economic and productivity consequences, putting a strain on business/industry

  • Continuous work at some level (ft/pt) - increasingly important & desirable for older people and society as a whole

Growing old in america today

  • Radically different than it was for previous generations

  • Today: healthier, better educated, more willing to work into the later years

  • Chronology = Competence

    To stay competitive as new sources of labor become scarce, employers must not overlook this talented and largely untapped employee base

The u s workforce is aging
The U.S. Workforce is Aging Challenges

  • Baby Boomers come of age

    • 30% of Americans are boomers (83 million)

    • By 2025 20% of Americans will be 65+

  • By 2005:

    • median worker age 41

    • workers 45+ will comprise 40% of the workforce

  • Workforce will continue to age through 2015 oldest boomers begin to retire

  • The economy is hot or at least luke warm
    The Economy is Hot Challenges[or at least luke-warm]

    • Local labor markets extremely tight

    • 1998-2008: BLS projects 14% increase in employment

    • Pay scales driven higher; benefit packages increasing

    • Companies beginning to look to new sources of labor supply

    Retirement trends

    • Growing indication the early retirement trend is leveling off

      • Growth in jobs/declining unemployment creates demand for all workers

      • Increasing popularity of bridge jobs (gradual retirement)

    Low income boomers

    • 9 million boomers (today aged 35-54) did not graduate from high school

      • incomes 12% lower than for similarly educated persons in their parents’ generation

      • US will soon see an increase in the number of poor, aging adults

  • As the tail of the “bulge” reaches age 45, low-income mature workers will soon increase by 25% [from 8 to 10 million]

  • Florida (the retirement state) today: Challenges

    18% of population 65+

    U.S. in 2025: states Challenges

    with at least 18% of population 65+

    Economic consequences

    • Dependency ratio

      • 1950: 7 working age persons to 1 elderly person

      • 2030: ratio will dwindle to less than 3 to 1

  • Increasing work participation rate of older Americans would:

    • add to the productivity of the workforce

    • alleviate strains on the US economy

    • increase private saving and reduce the burden on public resources through higher tax revenues

  • Demand for older workers

    • As workers retire, the economy loses valuable work experience

    • Improvement in work-readiness of young workers needed to meet ever-higher skill requirements of the economy cannot be taken as a given

    • Older workers are productive, reliable, trainable, with a high work ethic and customer service focus

    Necessity of lifelong learning

    • Key factor to productivity (of all workers) is skill level and training

    • For most mature Americans there are few physical or cognitive barriers to work and learning new skills

    • Employers and workers must both work towards closing the technology training gap

    Age income affect training needs
    Age & Income Affect Training Needs Challenges

    Common stereotypes portray older workers as:

    • Harder to train

    • Less able to keep up with technological change

    • Less promotable

    • Less motivated

    Older workers are not a homogenous lot
    Older Workers are not a Homogenous Lot Challenges

    Different needs … Different strategies

    • Dislocated workers

    • Women [displaced homemakers]

    • Low income

    Training implications
    Training Implications Challenges

    • Training for older workers needs to be slowed down

    • Vision and hearing changes require attention

    • Older workers prefer less formal seating arrangements

    • Training proceeds better in comfortable classroom environments

    • Shorter sessions are more effective

    • The training class is best when kept small

    Some things to remember
    Some Things to Remember Challenges

    • Older people perform better on self-paced tests than they do on timed tests

    • When both words and pictures (graphics) are used, older persons can retain 6 times more information

    • It’s much easier for older people to see yellow, orange & red than darker colors

    • Greater levels of illumination are needed (an average 60 yr. old’s eye admits only  as much light as a 20 yr. old)

    The training process
    The Training Process Challenges

    • Training focus should be on the gains of experience

    • Older workers learn what they think they need to learn

    • Trainees need help with self-confidence and self-esteem issues

    • Older trainees value non-verbal rather than verbal training

    • Adults learn by doing Challenges

    • The training process should be slowed down --- self paced learning works best

    • Training should have ample opportunities for practice

    • Testing should be used sparingly

    • Relate training to skills already possessed

    Adults learn by doing

    Method Challenges



    Audio Visual



    Practice (experiential)

    Average Retention Rate







    Adults Learn by Doing

    Barriers to labor market participation
    Barriers to Labor Market Participation Challenges

    • Government policies and practices

      • Financial incentives to retire

      • Health care

  • Public/Private Employer policies and practices

    • Age stereotypes

    • Pensions

    • Training and retraining

  • Individual barriers

    • Rapid technological change (new occupations/skills)

  • Promising program and practices
    Promising Program and Practices Challenges

    SCSEP (Title V of the OAA) is a viable One-Stop Partner to Meet Demographic Needs

    • 100,000 served, 35,000 placed annually

    • Outreach & recruitment

    • Counseling

    • Assessment, IDP development

    • Subsidized work experience & training

    • Job development & placement

    Working together to meet goals as a partner scsep can
    Working Together to Meet Goals ChallengesAs a partner, SCSEP can ...

    • Provide training to One-Stop staff to prepare them to better serve older workers

    • Ensure specialized assistance is available for older workers to effectively utilize the One-Stops [staffing strategies]

    • Ensure One-Stops accommodate the special needs of older workers

    • Assist One-Stop job developers to include job opportunities for older workers

    • Ensure One-Stops have necessary linkages & partnerships to ensure availability of specialized training for older workers

    • System linkages to facilitate access to support services needed by older workers

    • Assist One-Stops with an outreach & recruitment plan that includes older workers and minority older workers

    • Assign project participants to serve as mentors to school-to-work and welfare-to-work participants

    • Provide employer linkages

    An older worker policy makes good business political sense
    An Older Worker Policy Makes Good Business & Political Sense ensure availability of specialized training for older workers

    Demographic and Economic Imperative:

    • Employers facing labor force drop-off due to retirements will have to adapt in some way

      Political Imperative:

    • Extending work lives may help reduce younger workers’ burden supporting retirees (Social Security & Medicare)

      The SCSEP as your partner can assist you in meeting the needs of older job seekers.

    NEED FURTHER INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE? ensure availability of specialized training for older workers

    Older worker programming resources
    OLDER WORKER PROGRAMMING RESOURCES ensure availability of specialized training for older workers

    DoL/ETA Technical Assistance Guides

     Using the Workforce Investment Act to Serve Mature and Older Workers

     One-Stop Training Curriculum for Older Worker Specialists

     Different Needs, Different Strategies: A Manual for Training Low-Income Older Workers

     An Employer’s Guide to Older Workers: How to Win Them Back and Convince Them to Stay


    Older worker programming resources1
    OLDER WORKER PROGRAMMING RESOURCES ensure availability of specialized training for older workers

    To obtain (free) copies of Technical Assistance Guides, contact:

    David Richardson

    US Department of Labor, D/OWP

    200 Constitution Ave., NW

    Rm N4644

    Washington, DC 20010

    • Phone: 202-693-3757

    • Fax: 202-693-3818