Thursday, February 28, 2008

United Kingdom: Age Law Easing Older Workers Conserns in Shifting Jobs

A survey conducted for Joslin Rowe suggests that the United Kingdom's age discrimination legislation is leading to a significant increase in job moves amongst "older" workers in the financial services sector. Specifically, workers ove 35 years of age account for 18.1% of total moves in 2007 compared with only 14.0% five years earlier. Even more significantly, workers over 56s made up only 0.1% of job changes in the financial services sector five years ago, but, following the legislation, this figure has grown to 0.5%--an absolute increase of 323.2% over the last five years.

Source: Joslin Rowe Press Release (February 25, 2008)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Poland: Government Seeks Incentives To Keep Older Workers Working

According to press reports, the Polish government has proposed incentives aimed at motivating 50+ year-olds to become more professionally active. These would include promoting professional retraining programs to match job market demand and tax relief for employers offering work to people over 50.

Currently, only 28$ of people over 50, while the other 72% are retired, claim disability or early retirement benefits.

"Deputy labour and social policy minister Czeslawa Ostrowska has said that businesses employing people over 50 would be exempted from obligatory contributions to the Labour Fund and would only have to pay for the first 14 days of medical leave compared with the obligatory 33 days under the current law."

Source: Nowe Media, Polskie Radio S.A "Government encourages older workers to work longer" (February 22, 2008)

Other Sources: Pravda "Poland's new premier: firms must employ older workers, too" (November 29, 2007)

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Zealand: Oldest Workers Exhibiting Highest Rate of Job Growth

According to job data released by Statistics New Zealand, employees aged 65 years and older showed the greatest growth in filled jobs and average mean quarterly earnings in the five-year period to December 2006. Even though, as a group, they held only 2.5% of total filled jobs, they represented the greatest percentage growth--88.9%, substantially higher than the national average of 17%.

The next younger group of workers--those aged 60 to 64 years--had the second largest percentage increase of 50.5%, followed by the 55- to 59-year-olds, with 45%.

Source: Statistics New Zealand Media Release (February 22, 2008)

Civic Ventures Report Highlights State Initiatives on Capturing Boomer Energy

A report issued by Civic Ventures shows that leaders of several state governments are taking the initiative to develop policies and programs that make the best use of boomer experience. The report--"Building an Experience Dividend: State Governments Lead Call to Engage Boomers"--focuses on developments in five states:
  • Arizona and its Mature Workforce Initiative to develop policy recommendations and launch new programs, such as a certification program given to businesses deemed "mature-worker friendly."
  • California, whose eServices offices focus on matching boomers’ desire to serve with specific labor shortages, such as the demand for math and science teachers and qualified managers in the public sector.
  • Maryland, which enacted a Baby Boomer Initiative Act in 2007, creating the Boomer Initiative Council, which is tasked with developing a strategy to keep boomers engaged in their communities through work and volunteer opportunities.
  • Massachusetts, whose governor has called for the creation of a Commonwealth Corps to give residents new opportunities to make significant commitments to service and in which legislation
    is being advanced that would create a Mature Worker Council.
  • New York, where a package of eight bills has been introduced that are hoped will jumpstart the state’s efforts to prepare for an aging workforce.
In addition, eight states are participating with the National Governors Association and Civic Ventures in a year-long program to find ways to tap skills of older workers.

Source: Civic Ventures News Release (February 7, 2008)

Additional Source: USA Today "No time to relax: States want new retirees' experience" (February 22, 2008)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

U.S. Government Study Shows Younger Workers Less Inclined to Federal Employment

The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has issued the results of a study of Federal entry-level new hires in professional and administrative occupations to identify how the U.S. Government can improve its entry-level hiring. According to the report--"Attracting the Next Generation: A Look at Federal Entry-Level New Hires, the Federal Government offers what many new hires—-regardless of age or generation—-want in an employer, but noted that numerous studies indicate that the Government is not an attractive employer to younger, less experienced applicants.

One surprising finding was that despite the popular perception that an entry-level new hire is a young, professionally inexperienced, recent college graduate, entry-level new hires are much more diverse in terms of age, experience and background. Specifically, data showed that the average age of the new hire in fiscal year 2005 was 33 years old, with new hires ranging in age from 21 to 84 years old. "Even more surprising, almost 20 percent reported more than 20 years of work experience before joining the Government, and 17 percent had 11 to 20 years."

In looking specifically to the attraction of Federal employment to older workers, the study reports:
While some may be starting new careers, it is also apparent that many new hires are wrapping up their current careers and hoping to supplement their private retirement with Federal benefits. The Government’s retirement package includes a fixed pension based on earnings and a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan (Thrift Savings Plan or TSP) similar to 401(k) plans offered in the private sector.

In addition, retirees with 5 years of continuous enrollment immediately before their retirement continue to receive the full subsidy in the Employees Health Benefits Program. These benefits are attractive to those nearing retirement or who have already retired from another sector and want to supplement their earnings, as demonstrated through some participants’ narrative comments:
Source: Merit Systems Protection Board Press Release (February 8, 2008)

Additional Source: Government Executive "Generation Gap" (February 21, 2008)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Australian Study Identifies Industries More Likely To Employ Older Workers with Chronic Illnesses

According to a study published in Australia, increasing rates of chronic health conditions are unlikely to have an even impact across the workforce, as the rate of employment of older workers with these conditions varies between industries. The results of the study appear in the Australian Medical Association's Medical Journal of Australia ("Where are older workers with chronic conditions employed?" ; free registration).

Using data from the 2005 National Health Survey (NHS), Deborah J Schofield, Susan L Fletcher, Arul Earnest, Megan E Passey and Rupendra N Shrestha find that, compared with the reference industry of property and business services, workers in the retail trade industry were found to be more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal conditions, while those in health and community services had higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Compared with the reference occupation group of professionals, managers and administrators were less likely to suffer neoplasms.
It is important to note that a number of the industries with significantly higher rates of chronic illness are growth industries, such as retail trade and health and community services. These two industries accounted for a quarter of the employed workforce in 2005, up from around 20% in 1990. If the chronic conditions in growth industries are work-related, rates of disease may increase in the future as these industries continue to grow. However, if they are unrelated to work, it may mean that older workers with these conditions can more readily gain employment in these industries.
According to Dr. Schofield, measures to prevent chronic health conditions may be essential to increasing future labour force participation: "Given Australia's ageing population, emerging workforce shortages, and with chronic disease affecting the majority of the workforce, measures to prevent illness may be an important strategy for increasing future labour force participation."

Source: The University of Sydney News Release (February 18, 2008)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Illinois: Will County Report Warns Aging Workforce Could Impact Economy

The Workforce Investment Board of Will County, Illinois, has released a report saying that it is time to pay attention and take action on the county's aging and shrinking workforce as the issue could impact the county's economy. The report identifies specific sectors of business and industry in the county where the aging population (50 and older) is more prevalent: education (18.1%), manufacturing (15.2%), healthcare (12.7%), transportation/warehousing/logistics (12.8%), and finance-insurance (12.4%).

Pat Fera, manager of the Workforce Investment Board, notes that the report also includes a number of suggestions to help business and industry prepare for the retirement of Baby Boomers and the labor shortage:
Businesses will be competing more than ever for skilled workers--and the smartest businesses are taking steps to understand what their future workforce will want and likely demand. But there is no ‘one size fits all' strategy that insures companies they can continue to have the workforce necessary to remain competitive in our global economy. They need to assess their current workforce and seek out creative strategies to maintain the knowledge base of their aging workforce while attracting new workers to their industry.
Source: Workforce Investment Board of Will County "Impact of a Maturing Workforce in Will County" (December 2007)

Additional Source: Morris Daily Herald "Boomer retirement will impact Will Co. labor force" (February 14, 2008)

Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce Issues Report

The Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce, created as part of an effort to expand opportunities for older Americans choosing to remain in the workforce, and to develop proposals to address the challenges and opportunities of an aging workforce, has released its findings on (1) identifying strategies to enhance the ability of older Americans to remain in or re-enter the labor market and pursue self-employment opportunities; and (2) identifying strategies to enable businesses to take full advantage of this skilled labor pool.

According to Sen. Herbert Kohl, the report--"Report of the Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce"--provides "a broad overview of several legal and regulatory barriers," but "what we really need to focus on is creating innovative workplace practices and providing attractive employer benefits to facilitate the hiring and retention of older workers.”
The report presents strategies developed by the taskforce to address the most significant issues related to the aging of the American workforce. Among other suggestions, the taskforce recommends creating an interagency group to inventory the legal and regulatory barriers and disincentives to employment of older workers. The interagency will identify the pros and cons of specific approaches to addressing each barrier. The taskforce also recommends making educational resources on retirement and financial literacy available to older workers at One-Stop Career Centers and local Social Security Administration offices.
Source: U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Press Release (February 14, 2008)

Europe: Economic Affairs Commissioner Addresses Summit on Demographic Crunch

Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is warning that European society is at risk of losing its dynamism if it does not develop a coherent approach to an ageing population and decreasing workforce. He spoke at a oned-day summit Friends of Europe conference entitled "Europe's looming demographic crunch". The Friends of Europe says this crunch will be felt dramatically in the years to come, as by 2050, 30% of the population will be over 65 and only two people of working age for each
pensioner.

In his address--"Investing in the future: an agenda for addressing Europe's Demographic Challenge", Alumnia identified the decreasing share of the working age population as a "major factor" influencing stuttering economic prospects. Thus, one prong of the strategies that European states must adopt is to raise employment rates, especially among women and older workers.
The best way forward is to promote flexible working arrangements where employment security for workers is provided by adequate skills. Such a flexicurity approach will help modernise European labour markets and ensure that people have access to employment throughout their working lives. The success of this model relies on active labour policies combined with good education and training systems that allow people to gain new skills whether they are 16 or 60.
Sources: EurActive "Almunia warns of looming demographic crunch in Europe" (February 5, 2008); Friends of Euroipe Press Release (January 31, 2008)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Phased Retirement: Employers Operating in the Dark?

Writing in Workforce Magazine, Michelle V. Rafter reports that many companies are implementing flexible workplace initiatives to hang on to valuable older employees. However, one attractive option--implementing a formal phased retirement program--is turning out to be easier to talk about than to do: U.S. pension reform laws passed in 2006 to ease restrictions on retirement-age employees who wanted to work a reduced schedule but still be able to collect payouts from defined-benefit pension plans have raised more questions than they’ve answered.

Accordingly, she writes, "At many companies, that’s put formal phased retirement programs on the back burner. Until things get sorted out, companies appear content to stick with informal arrangements." Among these informal arrangements are:
  • ad hoc deals with executives or other employees who are close to retirement age and valued because of their position, experience, skills or customer relationships, whereby, if the workers are over 62, they can remain working in some capacity and start collecting pension benefits.
  • encouraging employees to retire completely, wait for a period of months to pass, and then return as independent contractors, allowing workers to collect their full pension benefits and the company to retain their brainpower.
  • contracting with contingent worker organizations to manage retiree workers on their behalf.
Source: Workforce Magazine "Pension and Retirement Benefits: Phased Retirement--Firms Wing It" (February 4, 2008)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Delaware: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Delaware, the seventh state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Delaware: 2004":
  • 15% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.4% were 65 and older;
  • the educational services industry had the highest proportion of workers 55 and over (22.3%), followed closely by arts, entertainment and recreation (22.1%); and
  • the state's retail trade industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 16% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
The Census Bureau also states that reports on Colorado, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland and Kentucky are tentatively scheduled to be released over the next month or two.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau News Release (February 11, 2008)

Monday, February 11, 2008

South Korea: Workers Over 65 Are Over 11 Percent of Workforce

According to published reports, workers aged 65 or above accounted for 11.2% of South Korea's total workforce in 2007, up from 10.8% in 2006 and 5.9% in 1985. The National Statistical Office (NSO) reports that the number of senior workers reached 1.52 million in 2007--up 75.1% percent from 869,000 in 1997--as the number of Koreans aged over 65 increased by 66% percent to 4.87 million in 2007 from 1997.
Local companies increasingly prefer to hire workers on an irregular and temporary basis with little job security and lower wages to meet their manpower demand. Older workers who have already retired from previous jobs are willing to accept the lower-paying jobs.
Source: The Korea Times "Senior Workers Account for 11% of Total Workforce" (February 10, 2008)

Commmentary: Growth and Pitfalls of Second Careers

In an interview for The New York Times with Marc Freeman, author of Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life, Marci Alboher explores with Freeman "the growing phenomenon of encore careers, the obstacles facing older workers, and why it is so hard to come up with language to describe this new period of work and life."

Among other things, Freeman tells how, while society is set up to make retirement happen seamlessly, individuals are often on their own when it comes to launching a significant second career, "even though we desperately need people to move into this direction." Furthermore, he would like to see older workers avoid spending decades in "bridge jobs" with Home Depot and the like and believes that employers "need to recognize, particularly those facing talent shortages, that there is more than one place to look when filling these gaps."

Source: The New York Times "Discovering Second Acts In Sustained Working Lives" (February 11, 2008)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Report Focuses on U.S. Immigration Policy in Relation to Aging Population

According to "THINKING AHEAD ABOUT OUR IMMIGRANT FUTURE: New Trends and Mutual Benefits in Our Aging Society", written by Dowell Myers for the Immigration Policy Center, the rapid rise in the senior ratio will precipitate not only fiscal crises in the Social Security and Medicare systems, but workforce losses due to mass retirements that will drive labor-force growth perilously low and immigrants and their children will help to fill these jobs and support the rising number of seniors economically.

Source: American Immigration Law Foundation Immigration Policy In Focus (January 2008)

OECD Report on Netherlands Includes Focus on Increasing Participation of Older Workers

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD), in issuing its "Economic survey of the Netherlands 2008" making assessments and recommendations on the main economic challenges faced by the Netherlands, has specifically focused, among other things, on the role of older workers in the Dutch economy. Although it finds that it has made a strong comeback, the economy is now facing labour shortages, related to the greying of the population and the continued weak labour market-participation of several groups.

OECD recommendations include the adoption of incentives to increase participation in the labour market, including at older ages, so as to widen the revenue basis and, to encourage older workers, strengthen job search requirements and continue making the tax-benefit system more work-friendly.

In his remarkes at a joint press conference held with the Minister of Economic affairs, OECD Secretary General Angel GurrĂ­a said:
To further increase participation of older workers, the government should move ahead with its planned reforms and make them more encompassing. Particularly, the new levy on pensioners who stopped working before the official retirement age could be implemented faster and not be applied only to higher income levels. In addition, measures should be taken to reduce the possibility of using the unemployment benefit system, in combination with generous severance payments, as a transition into early retirement.
Sources: OECD Executive Summary (January 31, 2008); NIS News Bulletin " OECD Urges Netherlands to be Tougher on Welfare Recipients" (February 1, 2008)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

United Kingdom: Employers Need To Be Much More Focused on Rewards Needed To Incent Older Workers

Employers that are addressing the challenges presented by an ageing workforce to recruit, retain, and engage talent are acting mostly on an ad hoc basis, according to a report on employer incentives for older workers issued by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), based on research carried out on behalf of the CIPD by Cranfield School of Management. The CIPD Research Insight "Managing an ageing workforce: The role of total reward" shows that a more holistic approach to pay and reward is necessary--"organisations need to look across their financial and non-financial reward offerings to consider whether they are attractive to older workers."
What is lacking is a systematic and integrated approach to reward that examines whether the pay and the financial and non-financial benefits are appealing to all individuals, irrespective of their age, race, gender, etc.
According to Charles Cotton, CIPD Reward and Employment Conditions Adviser, employers "need to take the opportunity to examine whether how they reward their employees is appealing to older workers, as well as other groups.” In addition, the research suggests that employers need to make sure not to neglect the training and development needs of older workers. Dr Emma Parry, Research Fellow at Cranfield School of Management and author of the research, suggests that as employees approach retirement age, they have different needs and says that the "total rewards package offered to employees should be designed in such a way as to accommodate these differing needs so that workers of all ages are motivated to stay with the organisation.”

Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Press Release (January 31, 2008)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Europe: Survey Shows More Companies Responding to Demographic Changes, Responsive to Older Workers

According to Adecco Institute, European companies are waking up to the demographic challenge of an aging and shrinking workforce, with an increased number of companies having started to analyze their internal age structure and more large companies planning to hire more employees aged 50 and older in 2008 versus 2007. These are the results of Adecco's second demographic survey: "Facing Europe’s Demographic Challenge: The Demographic Fitness Survey 2007".

Applying its Demographic Fitness Index (DFX), which measures the preparedness of companies to cope with the demographic crunch on a scale of 100 to 400 points, Adecco also shows there is much to be done. Overall, European companies averaged 182 points, with Germany and the UK leading with 186 index points each, followed by Italy (182), Spain (180) and France (174). The DFX measures career management, lifelong learning, knowledge management, health management, and diversity management.
The increase in the number of companies analyzing age structures indicates an increased awareness of the issue: 40 percent of all European firms, up from one third a year ago, have conducted an analysis of the overall age structure of their organizations. Medium-sized firms have demonstrated the most significant improvement over the past year.

However, only in France and the UK has this improved level of knowledge of the age structure, so far, led to an increase in long-term staff planning. In the survey, no European company planned their overall staff needs more than 18 months ahead.

One of the most encouraging findings of the 2007 Demographic Fitness Survey is that more and more of the large European companies are willing to hire older employees. 16 percent intend to hire more older employees in 2008 than in 2007, and the share of companies who plan to hire fewer people over 50 has decreased from 42 percent to 34 percent.
Source: Adecco Institute Press Release (January 31, 2008)

Friday, February 01, 2008

United Kingdom: Study Shows Older Workers Demanding More Work

In the United Kingdom, the demand for working beyond 65 looks set to increase significantly over the next 15 years, according to survey results from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Specifically, 38% of workers aged between 50 and 64 years plan to carry on working beyond 65, compared with only 11% of the workforce currently working beyond that State Pension age. Furthermore, "among those who said they did not plan to work past 65, 31% would change their mind if their employer allowed them to work flexibly."

According to Charles Cotton, CIPD reward adviser:
On one level the survey findings look very positive, in that they show a strong demand for working beyond retirement age that is as much down to financial as other reasons such as individuals wanting to use their skills and experience. However, it is clear that Government policy could do more to encourage more older workers to stay on by extending the right to request flexible working beyond parents and carers and making pension arrangements more flexible. If the Government fails to do this, its target of having a million older workers in work will become a mere aspiration.
Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Press Release (January 25, 2008)