Saturday, April 28, 2007

United Kingdom: Minister Addresses Learning and Older Workers

In a speech to the Associate Parliamentary Skills Group, Bill Rammell--Minister of State for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning--addressed the Leitch Review of Skills and specifically the challenge to engage older workers in obtaining the skills they need to succeed, given that those 50 and older are less likely than younger people to be interested in learning and tend to have fewer formal qualifications.

Rammell said that "the government is taking the needs of this group seriously" and that "[e[mployers must draw on the full range of skills and talents of the whole of the workforce" and, in fact, "will have to attract older people in order to support their own future growth." He addressed a number of government initiatives, but he rejected any need (as expressed in the Skills Forum report) to recognise that older workers learn in a different way to everyone else, a difference that should be recognised in qualification design and teaching methods: "[A]s someone approaching the accepted lower age limit for an older worker I find the idea slightly insulting. We can’t lump all older learners together to be treated differently from everyone else."

In concluding, Rammell said that he is optimistic about promoting and communicating our policies and programmes to all adults regardless of age. "It is easy to point to lower participation rates for older workers than for younger ones. But the situation is changing. Over the last 10 years the number of learners in Further Education aged 60 and above has more than doubled--from 113,000 in 1997 to almost 270,000 today." In addition, "[a]s greater numbers of older people remain in, or return to, the workforce I expect this to increase further, not least because most training is through employers."

Source: Department for Education and Skills Speech (April 25, 2007)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Survey: Twenty Percent of Workers Plan To Stay at Work until They Die

According to a financial literacy poll conducted by Bankrate, Inc., nearly 20% of individuals plan to work until death, with the percentage rising with age, so that 40% of seniors surveyed saying they will work until death. In addtion, 28% of those surveyed save less than 5%, including 16% saving nothing at all for retirement. Nevertheless, six out of ten Americans "never worry" or worry "not very much" about outliving their retirement savings and, in fact, 27% plan on quitting in their 50s.
"If you're age 65, one of the key things that keeps you coming to work is the desire to avoid touching your IRA and nest egg for as long as you can," says Tim Driver, founder of the Web site, Retirementjobs.com. "Many of these people have lived through the Depression. They grew up in an environment where watching pennies was the norm. Many of them are working for healthcare, too. It's by far and away the largest concern for that group."
Source: Bankrate, Inc. News Release (April 23, 2007)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Survey: Few Employers Are Taking Action to Recruit and Retain Older Workers; Manpower Offers Up Recommendations

According to a survey conducted for Manpower Inc. of more than 28,000 employers across 25 countries and territories, only 14% of employers worldwide have strategies in place to recruit older workers and only 21% have implemented retention strategies to keep them participating in the workforce.

The published results of the survey-- Older Worker Recruiting & Retention Survey--break down recruitment and retention by country and industry. Among different countries, employers in Japan and Singapore were far ahead of their international counterparts with 83% and 53% of employers surveyed, respectively, working proactively to retain their older employees; at the other extreme, in Italy and Spain, only 6% of employers had such strategies in place.
"Many employers have not yet recognized the need to forecast the percentage of their workforce that is set to retire in the next five to 10 years and planned ahead to stem the potential loss of productivity and intellectual capital that will occur when those people walk out the door," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, Chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc. "A surprisingly large number of organizations are still viewing upcoming retirements as cost- savings opportunities, but this is a dangerous and shortsighted view, as older adults will be relied upon as one of the most important sources of talent for the future workforce."
Simultaneously with the survey results, Manpower issued a white paper--"The New Agenda for an Older Workforce"--which explores the increasing reality of the global aging workforce, the resulting gaps in workforce supply, and the demand that this is creating. Among other things, the white paper proposes strategies that companies can adopt to circumvent these talent challenges; recommendations on how employers can help older employees extend their careers should they choose to do so; and suggestions for the role that governments can play to help solve the older worker conundrum.

Source: Manpower Inc. News Release (April 23, 2007)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Survey: Global Consumers Anxious About Retirement, Savings

Aviva, which conducts a global annual survey of consumer attitudes to savings, released findings from its latest survey showing that only 45% of its global sample are saving regularly (only 36$ in the United Kingdom), despite people in most markets agreeing that investing or saving regularly is the most practical way to live comfortably in retirement. In addition, the survey shows that:
  • there are persisting high levels of anxiety over retirement, with people knowing that having enough money in retirement is important but in many countries, Eastern Europe in particular, few are taking steps to protect themselves;
  • over 40% of retired people, and even more in emerging markets, wish they had done something earlier to provide for their retirement; and
  • over 40% of people globally feel that financial planning for retirement is too complex.
In addition, the survey shows that in the United Kingdom, around half of those surveyed accept that they are going to have to work beyond their normal retirement date to fund their retirement.

In order to engage more consumers in financial planning for the future, Aviva has launched www.six-steps.org, a free, unbiased planning resource to help people make informed financial decisions about their retirement.

Source: Aviva PLC News Release (April 19, 2007)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Commentary: Older Workforce a Competitive Advantage for Europe

Nicholas Eberstadt, senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research, and Hans Groth, member of the Board of Directors for Pfizer-Switzerland AG, suggest in a commentary in the the International Herald Tribune that while Western Europe demographic pressures are undoubtedly heavy, the aging population does not meen that the Continent need not become a glorious rest home. Since its aging population is exceptionally healthy, its people are more capable of remaining productive into their advanced years now than they used to be--perhaps even more so than their American counterparts--so that "healthy aging" may turn out to be a trump card for enhancing prosperity and international competitiveness.

In their essay, adapted from an essay to appear in the May-June 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Eberstadt and Groth state that, for example, Western Europeans have distinctly better odds of surviving their working years than do Americans. The prospect of living longer generally encourages investment in learning and skills and thus facilitates higher productivity. "Western Europe must therefore figure out how to capture more of the economic opportunities allowed by healthy aging."
Encouraging older people to work is an obvious and necessary step to unlocking the economic potential of good health over the next generation. But it is only one step. Making fuller economic use of this comparative advantage will require nothing less than a fundamental re-examination of many basic policies, especially regarding labor markets, education and health.

If Western Europe hopes to benefit from its growing pool of older workers, its labor markets must become far more flexible, and economically rational, than they are today. Less cumbersome regulations and less costly obligations would make it more attractive and less risky for potential employers to hire all prospective workers, including older ones. Some orderly transition to a pension system with a greater measure of direct personal responsibility in the financing of retirement would also be in order.
Source: International Herald Tribune "Healthy old Europe" (April 19, 2007)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

EBRI Reports Americans Experience Retirement System Changes, but Not Responding to those Changes

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), "a large percentage of American workers recognize the U.S. retirement system is undergoing major changes, but many are not adapting in ways that are likely to leave them well-positioned for a comfortable retirement." EBRI's 17th annual survey or retirement confidence, sponsored with Mathew Greenwald & Associates, finds that finds pension-plan changes by employers have left nearly half of workers less confident about the benefits they will receive from a traditional pension plan, but that many workers are counting on employer-provided benefits in retirement that are increasingly unavailable.

The report--"The Retirement System in Transition: The 2007 Retirement Confidence Survey"(EBRI Issue Brief #304)--finds tht almost half of workers are saving for retirement but that total savings and investments (not including the value of their primary residence or any defined benefit plans) of less than $25,000, and that the majority not putting money aside for retirement have little in savings at all.
“We have known for decades that major changes were taking place in the U.S. retirement system,” said Jack VanDerhei, a Temple University professor, EBRI fellow, and co-author of the 2007 Retirement Confidence Survey. “This year, we found that a substantial number of workers realize that the shift from traditional pensions to 401(k) plans affects them personally. Unfortunately, only 24 percent of those affected indicate that they will save more on their own, and only 8 percent indicate that they will save more in the employer’s plan as a result of these changes. EBRI research suggests that the vast majority of employees are likely to need some type of additional savings if they hope to end up with the same amount of retirement savings they would have expected prior to the change.”
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute News Release (April 11, 2007)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New York: Legislature Considers Establishing Mature Worker Taskforce

The New York State state legislature is to consider establishing a mature worker taskforce among other programs aimed at confronting the state's radidly aging population. The goal of the taskforce woudl be to help guide policy to make workplaces friendlier for seniors.

The legislation to establish the Mature Worker Task Force (A5565 in the Assembly, and S3058 in the Senate) would create a 19-member task force in the State Office for the Aging to identify and address legal provisions that may limit opportunities for mature workers; identify best practices in the private sector for hiring, retaining and retraining mature workers; serve as a clearinghouse for such information; and assess the effectiveness and cost of programs that the state has implemented to hire, retain and retrain mature workers.

A separate bill introduceed in the State Assembly, A05566 (and the parallel Senate bill S03060) would establishe "a mature worker employment and training program to help workers ages 55 and older be prepared for continuing their employment after their retirement, or being trained or retrained for second careers or other work opportunities."

Source: Legislative Gazette "Budget includes major reforms for elder care" (April 16, 2007)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Japan: Expert Group Calls for Boosting Number of Elderly Jobholders

Writing for the Daily Yomiuri, Junichi Abe reports that an expert study group of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy has called for boosting significantly the number of jobholders, especially among women and the elderly, by diversifying the ways people can work, and tailoring jobs to fit individual lifestyles and stages in life.

With respect to older workers, the report on formulating an "action guideline to change ways of working" recommended the the employment percentage for people aged 60 to 64 should be increased to 66% by 2017 from the current 53% and that, for those aged 65 to 69, it should be raised to 47% from the current 35%.
The report also clarified the roles the government should play to enhance the ratio of jobholders among the elderly.

It says if the government-proposed bill for revising the Employment Measures Law to ban, in principle, employment discrimination due to age is enacted, ministries concerned should lose no time in working out ways to ensure effective enforcement of the law.
Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun "New ideas for aging problem: Panel's plan calls for employers, govt to help changing workforce" (April 11, 2007)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Survey: AARP Finds High Interest in Nevada in Working after Retirement Age

According to an AARP membership survey in Nevada, 32% say they are extremely (21%) or very likely (11%) to work beyond retirement, but slightly more (36%) say that for them it's not at all likely. The report was prepared by Jennifer H. Sauer, M.A., AARP Knowledge Management, for AARP Policy & Research.

In the "AARP Nevada Survey of Members: Work and Retirement", needing extra income was a major factor in the decision of those likely to continue working beyond retirement, but having health insurance coverage, building up a savings, enjoying work or the job, and paying for other health related costs are also factors influencing members to delay retirement or work again after retirement.
Employers interested in retaining or recruiting mature workers should note that AARP members in Nevada who are likely to continue working through traditional retirement indicate that flexible work schedules and incentive pay are highly influential factors in their decision to keep working. Additionally, two-thirds of those likely to keep working say a that a job allowing them to use their skills and expertise is extremely or very important to them, and half say that a job suited to family and personal life is also extremely or very important to them when thinking about working beyond retirement.
Source: Research Reports "Survey of AARP Nevada Members" (February 2007)

Australia: Second Intergenerational Report Released

The Treasurer of Australia has released Australia’s second Intergenerational Report, focusing on the implications of demographic change for economic growth and assessing the financial implications of continuing current policies and trends over the next four decades. Over the next 40 years, the ageing of the population (specifically the impact of relatively fewer people of traditional working age) is projected to slow economic growth, with real GDP per person rising more slowly than in the past 40 years, and, at the same time, spending pressures in areas such as health, age pensions, and aged care are projected to rise, due to demographic and other factors.

Among manyt other things, the report shows that the rate of mature-aged men still in the workforce rose from 60% in 1997 to more than 66% in 2005, slightly higher than the OECD average that year. The participation rate for people of traditional working age (15-64 years) is projected to rise from 76.2% in 2006-07 to 78.1% by 2046-47, mainly due to an increase in participation rates of older workers (aged 55-64 years).
Decisions by individuals to participate in the labour market are influenced by their capabilities, the incentives in government programmes and the flexibility of the labour market to match job seekers with employment opportunities and pay. Spending programmes which provide income support and the personal tax system need to have appropriate incentives to provide a return for working and to provide support, including in times of unemployment or situations of disability. The capabilities of people can be improved through better health and education. The flexibility of the labour market, the range of jobs, qualifications, hours and rates of pay also influence people’s decisions about labour force participation. Continued attention to all of these influences, as well as the maintenance of a strong macroeconomy that maximises employment opportunities, will be necessary.
Source: The Australian Government Treasury Intergenerational Report Home (April 2, 2007)

Additional Source: The Age "Retirement no option for generation of older workers" (April 3, 2007)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Californians Are Working At or Near Retirement

A California Budget Project (CBP) report shows that Californians are working later in life than they once did. The share of Californians approaching or at the traditional retirement age--age 65 and older--who are employed increased considerably between 1995 and 2006, after a decade and a half of little change.

According to the CBP's Policy Points, “More Californians Are Working Later in Life”, this trend reflects a number of factors, including improved health and longer life expectancy, as well as diminished retirement security. While both financial and non-financial factors motivate people age 55 to 70 to work, the need for money was the most frequently cited reason for working among those in their late 50s and early 60s.

Source: California Budget Project Press Release (April 2, 2007)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wisconsin: Effect of Aging Workforce on Milwaukee's Employers

Elizabeth Hockerman, writing for the Small Business Times in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reports that Milwaukee employers will soon be confronted by a severe labor shortage caused by a cascade of aging and retiring baby boomers, who will be followed by a much smaller generation. Among other things, she reports on a report by Senior Service America that Wisconsin’s labor shortage will be particularly acute: “All of the growth in the working-age population of Wisconsin (by 2015) will be generated by persons 55 and older … The graying of the Wisconsin population will clearly accelerate after 2010 in the absence of a substantial increase in either domestic in-migration or a sharp rise in foreign immigration.”
Before employers look to train unskilled workers or entice college students and young professionals to stay in the Wisconsin workforce, they are going to have to work with their older employees to find ways to keep them on board even after they plan to retire.

“We are lucky in a perverse way that many boomers have not planned well enough for retirement – they will be seeking to continue to work and earn an income,” said Sammis White, director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Workforce Development, associate dean of the School of Continuing Education and professor of urban planning. “But employers must be convinced that they should look to the boomers as part of the solution for the impending worker shortage. They definitely must be.”
Hockerman writes about some Milwaukee employers that are responding flexibly with, among other things, mentoring programs and plans to become an employer of choice among older workers.

Source: Small Business Times The Graying of Milwaukee (March 2, 2007)