Thursday, December 19, 2013

Connecticut: Legislative Panel Issues Report on Reemployment Challenges of Older Workers

The Connecticut General Assembly's Office of Program Review and Investigations has issued its finding from its study of the challenges facing older unemployed workers (ages 50 and older), including the competing demands to have an income while completing needed job-related training. According to the "Staff Findings and Recommendations Highlights," there are many programs and services to assist with the reemployment of unemployed workers, including older workers, but that only a few programs are specifically for older adults. Accordingly, "there is no comprehensive, easily accessible way for unemployed residents to find out about these resources." Looking at existing programs overall, programs with an on-the-job-training component had a higher reemployment rate of 74% compared with 50% for programs without the component.

The report made several recommendations, including:
  • Prohibit potential employers from publishing job vacancy advertisements that discriminate against the long-term unemployed.
  • Develop summary sheets and informational campaigns to inform job seekers of the resources available, address misperceptions about the state's apprenticeship program, and publicize the advantages of hiring older workers.
  • The CTWorks Career Centers should consider requirement of a professional resume writer credential and expansion of online learning.
In addition to the report highlights, the full report, as well as an executive summary, are available online. The report has been welcomed by the House Chair of the Program Review and Investigations Committee. Source: Office of Program Review and Investigations Studies: Reemployment of Older Workers (December 18, 2013)

Brookings Issues Report on Retirement Trends in 20 Industrialized Countries: Recession Accelerating Delayed Retirements

A report from the Brookings Institution finds that since Great Recession, the trend toward later retirement in industrialized countries has not only continued, but has accelerated. According to "Impact of the Great Recession on Retirement Trends in Industrialized Countries," by Gary Burtless and Barry Bosworth, when the recession began most rich countries were experiencing an increase in labor force participation rates after age 60. In their paper, they examined whether the downturn slowed or reversed the trend toward higher old-age participation rates, using straightforward time series analysis to test for a break in labor force trends after 2007.
Averaging across all 20 countries in our sample, the pace of labor force participation gains has accelerated since the onset of the Great Recession. As noted, the participation rate of 60-64 year-olds increased at an average rate of 0.4 percentage points a year between 1989 and 2007. Between 2007 and 2012 the participation rate in this age group increased an average of 1.5 percentage points a year. In 12 of the 20 countries, the increase in the trend rate of participation change was statistically significant. The participation rate of 65-69 year-olds increased at an average rate of 0.1 percentage points a year between 1989 and 2007. Since 2007 the participation rate in this age group has increased an average of 0.8 percentage points a year across the sample countries. In 13 of the 20 countries, the rise in the trend rate of participation gain was statistically significant. In the oldest age group, 70-74 year-olds, the trend rate of increase in participation rose from 0.05 percentage points a year between 1989 and 2007 to 0.32 percentage points a year after 2007. In 12 of the 19 sample countries the increase in the pace of participation gain among 70-74 year-olds was statistically significant.
While countries that experienced unusually severe downturns, including Ireland and much of southern Europe, represent exceptions to this generalization, the authors conclude that, on the whole, however, the trend toward later retirement in rich countries has not been reversed as a result of the Great Recession.

According to Robert Samuelson, this study suggests that the "We may be witnessing the last gasp of early retirement" and not just in the United States.

Source: Brookings Institution Paper (December 16, 2013)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

United Kingdom: Survey Finds Older Workers Embracing New Careers, Entrepreneurship

A survey sponsored by Scottish Widows has found that 49% of the United Kingdom’s retirees are sparking a retirement revolution by transforming the end of their working lives, with almost one in 10 (8%) choosing to change careers and one in 20 starting their own business. In addition, the survey reports that 30% of working Britons planning to reinvent their careers when they retire, either by starting a new career, setting up a new business, or becoming a consultant.

With respect to retirement expectations, while 71% of retirees surveyed retired around or earlier than the age they expected, 54% of workers over 50 say they will retire later than they initially expected when starting out their career, with 21% believing that they will retire over the age of 70.

According to Wendy Loretto, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, University of Edinburgh Business School, who worked with Scottish Widows on the study: "As our society adapts to an ageing population, the way we perceive and plan for retirement has had to evolve. The reality is that we are not all able to stop working at 65, and this is likely to become even later in the future. With this in mind, people are adopting a new attitude towards this life stage and are starting to view working later in life as a positive opportunity rather than a burden."

Source: Scottish Widows News Release (December 10, 2013)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Utilities Industry Facing Workforce Changes with Generational Shift

According to a new report, workforce changes are re-shaping the risk profiles of power and utilities companies, which may require a systematic approach to help attract and retain core know-how, and transfer industry knowledge to a younger generation. The report--"Power and utilities changing workforce: Keeping the lights on"--from Price Waterhouse Cooper's Power & Utilities Group, finds that, among other things, an accelerated pace at which utilities are losing key workers. For example, the "voluntary turnover rate climbed by a full percentage point between 2010 and 2012, and for high performers and early tenured employees the rate of separation was especially high."

PWC suggests that, while other industries are used to high turnover, the relatively stable utilities industry may now have to rethink both their approach to process and their employee value proposition as they confront the industry's turnover issues:
[T]raditional "word-of-mouth," on-the-job training of utility workers is not sustainable. More than ever before, work processes and procedures should be documented and continuously improved. Explicit governance and controls procedures should be put in place and sustained. Moreover, focused and efficient knowledge transfer and succession planning approaches should align with the operational imperatives of the company.
The report suggests that utility companies have been able to postpone this day of reckoning, since the recession had either forced employees to delay retirement or stay in place as contractors. However, since veteran utilities workers have had the tendency to retain valuable institutional knowledge in their heads and to pass it on orally, this knowledge will be lost as the attractiveness of pensions plans draws this workers away from employment.

The report then outlines questions that utility companies must ask themselves about, and outlines approaches to take with respect to, three areas: (1) knowledge retention and succession planning, (2) operations, and (3) Technology and processes.

Source: Price Waterhouse Coopers Summary (December 2013)

New Zealand: Report Calls for Employers To Adapt Workplace Policies for Older Workers

A report issued by BusinessNZ, Southern Cross Healthcare Group, and Gallagher Bassett is telling New Zealand employers that they will be increasingly reliant on older workers to remain in the labor market in coming years, and that these workers will increasingly require arrangements such as reduced hours of work, flexibility in working time, lighter duties and a degree of focus on transition to retirement. In "Wellness in the Workplace," it is reported that "only 12.6% of businesses have policies or arrangements in place for older employees. Even when results were broken down by broad size of business, there was no significant change in the overall result."

"Of those business that do have some form of arrangement in place, comments typically revolved around reduced hours of work, flexibility in working time, lighter duties and a degree of focus on transition to retirement." According to Phil O’Reilly, BusinessNZ Chief Executive, just because workers are nearing retirement age doesn’t necessarily mean an employee wants to give up work. "It comes down to understanding the external pressures your staff are under. We’ve come a long way in talking about work-life balance for parents, however older workers have equally important reasons for needing flexibility--they may have health issues to contend with, need to care for older parents or, increasingly, take on caring for grandchildren so the parents can return to paid work."

Source: Southern Cross Healthcare Group News Release (December 16, 2013)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

United Kingdom: Government Announces Acceleration in Increase of Pension Age

In his Autumn 2013 speech to Parliament, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced, among other things, that the state pension age must continue to track life expectancy. While exact dates are to be determined, increases to pension ages of 68 and 69 would be accelerated. The full statement from the speech follows:
But we also have to guarantee that the basic state pension is affordable in the future, even as people live longer and our society grows older.

The only way to do that is to ensure the pension age keeps track with life expectancy.

The Pensions Bill, currently going through Parliament, puts in place reviews of the pension age every five years.

Now we set the principle that will underpin those reviews.

We think a fair principle is that, as now, people should expect to spend up to a third of their adult life in retirement.

Based on latest life expectancy figures, applying that principle would mean an increase in the state pension age to 68 in the mid 2030s and to 69 in the late 2040s.

The exact dates will be set by the future statutory reviews and in line with the most up to date demographic data, of which the next update is published next week.
A Background Note from the Department of Work and Pensions on the principles underlying this approach states that the United Kingdom "has decided to use the age of 20 as the appropriate starting age for the purpose of calculating the proportion of adult life spent in receipt" of a state pension, and that the government is currently legislating for a review of the pension age to take place once in every Parliament.

Sources: Gov.UK "Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement 2013 speech" (December 5, 2013); Department of Work and Pensions Background Note (December 5, 2013)