Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Microsoft Launches 21st-Century Skills Initiative for European Workers, Including Older Workers

Microsoft Corp. has announced a 21st Century Skills for Employability initiative in Europe. This is part of a European Alliance on Skills for Employability, which is providing access to skills training, content provision, and certification for underserved communities, including older workers. The alliance, with other companies such as Cisco Systems, is being created to help better coordinate industry and community efforts to improve the employability prospects of young unemployed people, people with disabilities and older workers. The alliance will work to provide technology access and ICT training to 20 million people in the next five years. According to G√ľnter Verheugen, vice president of the European Commission in charge of Enterprise and Industry, “[r]aising employment is the most effective way to generate growth and promote social inclusion. The challenges posed by an aging population make the modernization of social protection systems and the promotion of a life-cycle approach to work all the more important.”

Source: Press Release Microsoft (January 31, 2006)

Ireland: Needs To Mobilize Older People into Workforce

In its latest report in a series of 21 OECD country reports that are intended to fill the knowledge gap of what are the main barriers to employment for older workers, an assessment of the adequacy and effectiveness of existing measures to overcome these barriers, and a set of policy recommendations for further action by the public authorities and social partners, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has released its Ageing and Employment Policies: Ireland. According to the report, Ireland will need to mobilise more fully the potential labour resources of older people in order to sustain its record of strong economic growth and healthy public finances. Therefore, it should: strengthen work incentives through pension and welfare reform; promote an age-friendly environment in firms; expand training opportunities; and provide more assistance to older job seekers. The full report can be browsed here or purchased here.

Source: News Release OECD (January 31, 2006)

Monday, January 30, 2006

New York Employers Not Rushing To Hire Older Workers

Joy Davia, writing for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, reports that while New York area businesses will be losing workers full of experience and institutional knowledge, but won't have nearly enough Generation X-ers and Y-ers to replace them, "[m]ost businesses are aware of the problem but are not preparing for such a scenario, according to a recent upstate New York study by the AARP. They're not actively trying to attract and keep older workers or getting experienced workers to mentor younger cohorts, among other moves."
It might be hard for businesses to take a potential worker shortage seriously, especially if they're not already having trouble finding skilled employees. In fact, massive downsizings by local companies have left an abundance of people searching for jobs. "Change happens so rapidly," said Matthew Hurlbutt, executive director of RochesterWorks. "It might be hard for a business to look at an issue in 2010 and say they should start preparing for this now."
Davia writes that two of the most important things for employers to consider are making jobs attractive for older workers and capturing their knowledge. For example, the YMCA of Greater Rochester offers flexible hours — maybe part time or job-sharing — and benefits, including a new initiative that offers part timers health insurance. And, on the other side, Strong Memorial Hospital has a new mentoring program designed to get more nurses into one of its toughest fields; mentoring, according to Davia is hailed by experts as a great way to prepare for the upcoming swell of boomer retirements.

Source: "Older workers hold key to easing staffing woes" Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (January 29, 2006)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Immigration Not Altering Older Worker Demographics in U.S.

In providing a detailed picture of both the numbers and the socio-economic status of immigrants from U.S. Census Bureau data that shows that the nation's foreign-born or immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached a new record of more than 35 million in March of 2005, Steven A. Camarota, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, reports that recent immigration has had no significant impact on the nation's age structure--"[w]ithout the 7.9 million post-2000 immigrants, the average age in America would be virtually unchanged at 36 years."
It could be argued that the benefit to the age structure might take more than just five years of high immigration. In a recent reported we examined the impact of immigration on the aging of American society as well as on the Social Security system. Consistent with other research, we found that immigration has only a very small impact on the problem of an aging society now and in the future. While immigrants do tend to arrive relatively young, and have more children than natives, immigrants age just like everyone else, and the differences with natives are not large enough to fundamentally alter the nation's age structure. After looking at the impact of different levels of immigration over the next century, a Census Bureau report stated in 2000 that immigration is a "highly inefficient" means for increasing the percentage of the population that is of working age in the long-run.
Source: "Immigrants At Mid-Decade: A Snapshot Of America's Foreign-Born Population In 2005" Center for Immigration Studies (December 2005)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Employers Not Facing Up to Aging Workforce: Survey Results

The Aging of the U.S. Workforce: Employer Challenges and Responses, a survey conducted by Ernst & Young LLP, ExecuNet Inc., and the Human Capital Institute, reveals that, although corporate America foresees a significant workforce shortage as boomers retire, it is not dealing with the issue at present and may be underestimating the strategic challenges ahead. According to the survey of senior human resources executives, a little more than half of them agreed that the aging workforce is an issue that must be addressed. The survey illustrated that while employers are putting off tackling the issue of an aging workforce, an overwhelming 90% said they are committed to putting formal retention programs in place in the future. Of the 30% who have identified where business wisdom resides, only 67% have formal processes in place to transmit that business wisdom to the next generation.

Source: News Release PR Newswire (January 26, 2006)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Aging Workforce Helps Drive State Government Outsourcing

State and local government outsourcing expenditures on information technology (IT) are expected to grow from $10 billion in fiscal year 2005 to nearly $18 billion by fiscal year 2010 (FY10), according to a report released by INPUT. Despite many government officials' claims, outdated system infrastructures and an aging workforce will remain major factors forcing the market's pronounced 75 percent growth over the next five years.
“As the economy continues a strong recovery, we expect outsourcing opportunities to increase on the state and local level,” added [James] Krouse [, manager, state & local market analysis at INPUT]. “However, system integrators should remain vigilant in researching government opportunities on a case-by-case basis. The loss of seasoned government workers will affect nearly all state & local agencies. While this will be a significant stimulus for outsourcing contract decisions, ongoing maintenance of outdated legacy systems will provide more definite targets for outsourcing contract opportunities.”
Source: Press Release INPUT (January 23, 2006)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Europe: Aging Workforce Issues Part of Annual EU Labor Progress Report

The European Commission has published "Time to Move Up A Gear" The European Commission's 2006 Annual Progress Report on Growth and Jobs to reinforce momentum and force the pace of delivery. The report, and its separate national evaluations, provides an analysis of the 25 new National Reform Programmes submitted by Member States, identifies the strengths in different programmes with a view to promoting the exchange of good ideas, and highlights areas where there are shortcomings and proposes concrete action at EU and national level to deal with them.

In the third of the four priority action areas--employment policies to get people into work, the EU proposes that, to help increase employment rates and to finance pensions and health care for an ageing population, Member States should adopt a lifecycle approach to employment, with people of all ages offered the support they need. In addition, it says "active ageing" should be implemented, with more training for those over 45, financial incentives for prolonging working lives and use of part-time work.

Source: News Release European Commission (January 25, 2006)

Global: Employers and Nations Putting Retired Back to Work

In an article for Newsweek international, Stefan Theil writes that "many of the rich world's notions about old age are dying. While the streamlining effects of international competition are focusing attention on the need to create and keep good jobs, those fears will eventually give way to worries about the growing shortage of young workers. One unavoidable solution: putting older people back to work, whether they like it or not." Writing on the eve of the 36th World Economic Forum, Theil notes that "the global labor market won't wait for politicians or protesters to come around" and provides a number of examples of corporate responses:
DaimlerChrysler, whose share of over-45 workers will have risen from 41 percent in 2002 to 68 percent in 2011, has set up an Aging Workers Task Force, made up of human-resources managers and health counselors whose main job is to make sure that employees stay productive longer. Personnel services like Swiss-based Adecco have introduced "demographic fitness tests" for their clients to help them judge whether they have the tools in place to attract and productively employ qualified older workers. "Age-ism in the workplace is a danger to corporate productivity," warns Adecco, which recommends replacing sudden retirement with a flexible system allowing workers to work part time into their late 60s or beyond.

The Ford Motor Co. expects that the number of workers older than 50 will double in its European plants by 2008, and has set up an "early-warning system" to deal with staff-aging issues. "With the coming shortage of young, skilled staff, we will have to live with our aging employees," says Erich Knulle, health services director and demographics point man at Ford's European headquarters in Cologne, Germany.
Among the national responses discussed, Thiel draws attention to Finland where, when recession hit in the early 1990s, only 20% of Finns between the ages of 60 and 64 were working. Since then Finland has introduced "bonus pensions" for people working until 68, giving them a financial incentive to continue working—and paying taxes.

Source: "The New Old Age" Newsweek: International Edition (January 30, 2006)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

South Korea: New Labor Statistics Show Aging of Workforce

According to an article by Kim Sung-jin in The Korea Times, Korea's The National Statistical Office (NSO) said on January 23 that the number of 40-49 year old workers outstripped the working population aged between 30 and 39 years olds for the first time ever.
"The age of the newly employed in Korea’s manufacturing industry averaged 37.6 years in 2004 and would grow to 50 years by 2030 due to the rapidly aging trend and low birthrate of the Korean society," said LG Economic Research Institute (LGERI) vice president and economy research division chief Oh Moon-suk.

"Such trends call for urgent research into ways to raise the productivity of elderly citizens to tackle the declining potential economic growth rate problem in the short-term, and reinvigorate the birthrate to cope with the problem in the long-term," Oh said.
LGERI has suggested that adoption of a wage peak system and extending the retirement age could help the elderly from remaining economically inactive.

Source: "40-Somethings Emerge as Key Workforce" The Korea Times (January 23, 2006)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Commentary: Europe Can Age Gracefully If Reforms Implemented Now

Writing in Business Week, Natascha Gewaltig says that Europe's graying population will put economic pressure on the euro zone soon, but that what is needed is the political will to implement reforms now. "The share of the working-age population (15 to 64) will fall from around 66.9% in 2004 to just 56% in 2050. At the same time, the share of the population older than 65 will increase to 30% from 17%." One key issue will be female labor participation rates increase, which would at least partially offset the effect of a decline in labor supply; however, that will not be enough according to Gewaltig, so that immigration will also have to play an increasingly important role. In addition,
relatively favorable demographic developments over the next 4 to 5 years mean the period until 2011 is a window of opportunity for governments to prepare their pension systems and labor markets for the upcoming challenges. Radical changes and reforms of the PAYG pension schemes in key countries will be necessary. Despite the life-expectancy increase, the entry level for pension schemes has remained widely unchanged -- but this will have to be increased for the plans to remain sustainable.

Nevertheless, the time spent in retirement is likely to increase in the long run, all else being equal, and the change in dependency ratios will make the current PAYG system unsustainable. Pension levels will have to be lowered, and private-pension provisions will need to become more important.
Source: "How Europe Can Age Gracefully" Business Week (January 23, 2006)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Global Pension Systems Need To Adapt to Aging Populations

Raymond Torres, a labor analyst with the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), spoke January 19 at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington and told the audience that countries should adjust their pension and employment systems to adapt to aging populations and older workers. According to an article by Kathryn McConnell, Washington File Staff Writer for the Department of State, Torres said that if significant changes are not made in coming years, economic growth in countries could slow profoundly, as longer-living pensioners tap into retirement benefits and the proportion of younger workers who pay into countries' supportive tax bases grows smaller. Among other things, improved incentives for retaining workers longer could include raising the pension age, limiting tax advantages for people in private pension schemes for taking early retirement and ensuring that formal retirement plans and other welfare benefits are not used as pathways to early retirement.

Source: Washington File U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs (January 19, 2006)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Massachusetts: Boomers Poised To Redefine Retirement

Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, known as MassInc, has issued a report "A Generation in Transition: A Survey of Bay State Baby Boomers" in partnership with Princeton Survey Research Associates Intl. finding that, above all, boomers appear poised to redefine retirement. From a survey of over 1,000 boomers, MassInc reports that boomers expect to reverse the trend toward earlier withdrawal from the labor force by delaying their retirement and continuing to work at least parttime even after they retire. Boomers’ views about their retirement years are shaped by their finances today, which are not as strong as is often believed--excluding the equity in their homes, 30% have saved less than $50,000 for retirement, including 13% who have no retirement savings at all. Among those boomers who are planning to work after they retire, at least 39% expect to work out of financial necessity, not by choice.

In addition to the report, a roundtable discussion of it is available from WGBH.

Source: Press Release MassInc (November 2005)

Aging Workforce Issues Prominent in Creating New Global Workforce Forum

In response to the growing need for an international forum for discussion of workforce strategies, the Boston College Center for Work & Family has announced the launch of a Global Workforce Roundtable, a network comprised of human resources professionals from leading multinational organizations. Aiming towards a September inaugural summit in London, the Roundtable is designed to tackle "global concerns such as an aging workforce coupled with dwindling fertility rates." Participation is by invitation only, and participants "will share information and strategies regarding issues ranging from flex time and telecommuting to attraction and retention of talented personnel and aging workforce across the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific regions."

Source: Press Release Boston College Center for Work & Family (January 17, 2006)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

United Kingdom: Older Workers Have Smaller Social Circle, Inhibiting Finding Jobs

A report by Napier's Employment Research Institute (ERI) says that by having a large circle of family, friends, and acquaintances in employment a person is more likely to find or be in work than someone with very few contacts. However, unemployed people over 50 years old had smaller social circles than those in work and that many of their acquaintances were also unemployed which reduced their own chances of finding work.

According to the report--The Social Networks of Older Workers, people over 50 generally had fewer qualifications and skills than the under 50s and were more likely to work in part-time, non-skilled jobs. The over 50s also considered age to be a major barrier to employment. Kaberi Gayen, Research Associate, ERI, Napier University, said: "This research confirms the commonly-held view that older people find it harder to obtain work or change jobs." The research was carried out under the EQUAL initiative, an EU programme designed to combat discrimination and exclusion.

While recommending more research to validate its results over a broader area, the report suggests that more support should be given to unemployed people over 50, through greater development of social networks and skills by employment agencies; more work placements to enable people to widen their skills and social networks; and by increasing the number of volunteering opportunities.

Source: Press Release Napier University Employment Research Institute (January 17, 2006)

Iowa: Legislation Advances To Repeal Income Tax on Pensions and Social Security

The Iowa House Ways and Means Committee voted to eliminate the personal income tax on pension and social security benefits. The legislation, House Study Bill 502, is a five-year phase-out of the state tax on both pensions and Social Security benefits. The phase-out in HSB 502 begins in calendar year 2007. According to Committee Chairman Jamie Van Fossen (R-Davenport), Iowa is one of only 15 states that still taxes social security benefits, while most states that impose an income tax exempt at least part of pension income from taxable income; only three states fully exempt all public and private pensions from taxation.

Source: Newletter Jamie Van Fossen's Week in Review (January 13, 2006) Check this link later

For Governor Tom Vilsack 's perspective, see Quad City Times in which it is reported that he acknowledged that taxing retirement income is an issue in border communities such as the Quad-City area, but believes retirees leave the state because of the weather, not the tax climate. Nonetheless, he told reporters and editors he would be more interested if Republicans considered doing away with the ability of Iowans to deduct federal taxes from their state tax liability.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Commentary: Boosting Iowa To Entice Older Workers

Richard Doak, a columnist for the Des Moines Register, is recommending that if Iowa is going to maintain a workforce anywhere near the size of the present workforce, it will need a lot of people to decide to keep working beyond traditional retirement age. In particular, state government and private-sector employers should work together to provide a lot more of the kind of jobs older workers are interested in--ones that give them a sense of giving back to the community, and generally with less stress and probably less than full-time hours. Thus, he suggests Iowa needs things such as:
  • Fast-track procedures in licensing and certification to allow mid-career workers to shift into rewarding fields such as social work, health care and community development.
  • More jobs that offer part-time, flex hours and seasonal employment, so seniors can work but still take in their grandkids' Little League games or make a snowbird trip south.
  • More housing developments, transportation, recreation and workplaces that involve less hassle, more ease of living.
Source: "Make Iowa the place to be for older workers"Des Moines (January 16, 2006)

Monday, January 16, 2006

United Kingdom: New Projections of Over-65 Workforce to 2020

The United Kingdom labor force is projected to continue growing and reach 32.1 million people in 2020, on the basis of current trends, according to an article in the January issue of Labour Market Trends. This is a 6.7% increase on the 2005 figure of 30.1 million. It is expected that the number of people remaining economically active above pension age will increase; specifically, the number of over-65s still economically active will increase from 582,000 in 2005 to 775,000 in 2020. Overall, the economic activity rate for working-age people is projected to increase from 78.5% in 2005 to 79.8% in 2020.

The most significant demographic trend affecting the labor force over the next 15 years is expected to be a 23.5% increase in the number of people aged 50 and over. This is a combined effect of the overall trend towards higher life expectancy as well as the transition of the baby boom generation to the 50 and over age group.

Source: News Release National Statistics (January 12, 2006)

Commentary: Dire Forecasts for Boomers Overstated

Julie Kosterlitz and Marilyn Werber Serafini, staff correspondents at National Journal, have opined in an article is based on a recent item in that magazine that "the graying of America may not be the fiscal disaster that the deficit hawks project. The nation may age a good deal more gracefully than advertised, thanks to American ingenuity, adaptability and an increasingly hardy group of elderly." With respect to working life, they say that baby boomers are likely to work longer than preceding cohorts and that a decades-long trend toward earlier exit from the workforce appears to have ended.
Already, some private and government programs are encouraging this trend. The Civic Ventures think tank, which hopes to inspire a movement for paid and unpaid "second careers" in social action, is planning to offer five $100,000 awards in June to people over 60 who devise new ways to tackle social problems. The seniors' group AARP is collaborating with about two dozen companies to connect Americans over 50 with jobs. IBM recently started encouraging senior workers to become math and science teachers, offering them tuition and stipends while they student teach or mentor students online.
Source: "Hold off on the boom-and-doom talk" Los Angeles Times (Janauary 16, 2006)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Singapore: Low Wage Workforce Bonuses Help Older Workers

Farah Abdul Rahim, writing for Channel NewsAsia, reports that older, low-wage workers have given a thumbs-up to the billion dollar workfare assistance proposal unveiled by the Ministerial Committee on Low-wage Workers aims to give this group of workers the leg up, with a one-off bonus and more training. While the cleaning industry was the first industry to reap the benefits of the Job Re-Creation Programme, which saw workers receive training and a new image to help boost their wages, the program's scope and depth were being extended so that low-wage workers can climb up the career ladder easily to become supervisors, better their career prospects and more importantly, bring home more pay. "The aim is to expand the programme to nearly all sectors, including building and maintenance, and new growth areas like tourism."

Source: "Older, low-wage workers welcome workfare package" Channel NewsAsia (January 12, 2006)

Sheriff Backs Down On Using Older Workers from Senior Employment Program

In December, according to an article in the Richmond (IN) Palladium-Item, the Union County commissioners agreed to participate in Experience Works, the federally-funded senior workforce program. Residents age 55 or older who have limited income and want to work are eligible, and Sheriff Steve Leverton was reported to have "said he would use the workers to serve civil paperwork ordered by the court, primarily in the evenings and weekends. Senior workers also could do prisoner transport, especially those coming to court from state prisons." However, Leverton subsequently learned that the work he had planned is considered too dangerous.

Source: "Sheriff's plans for senior help scrapped" Richmond (IN) Palladium-Item (January 12, 2006)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Companies Lose Confidence in Workers’ Ability to Save for Retirement

Hewitt Associates is reporting that, despite continued efforts to educate employees on the importance of saving for retirement, many companies do not feel workers are stepping up to the challenge. According to Hewitt's study of more than 220 large U.S. companies, only 6% are confident their employees will take accountability for their own retirement future this year, down from 12% in 2005. "To address these concerns, an increasing number of companies are implementing automated features that make retirement saving a reactive decision rather than a proactive one." Specifically, 23% are very likely to add automatic enrollment features in their 401(k) plans by the end of the year, 13% are very likely to add contribution escalation features, and 20% plan to add automatic rebalancing of 401(k) accounts.

Source: News Release Hewitt Associates (January 10, 2006)

Older Workers Less Likely To Work Under Influence of Alcohol

Workplace alcohol use and impairment directly affects an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. workforce, or 19.2 million workers, according to a recent study conducted at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions and reported in the current issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. However, "working under the influence of alcohol or with a hangover was more prevalent among younger workers compared to older workers."

Source: News Release University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (January 9, 2006)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

AARP Campaigns To Repeal Social Security Offset Provision in State Unemployment Laws

According to an article by Diane E. Lewis in The Boston Globe, AARP has launched a campaign to encourage Massachusetts and eight other states to end state laws that deduct a portion of older workers' weekly Social Security payments from their unemployment benefits. According to AARP, laws in theses states, which include Rhode Island, Maine, Colorado, Ohio, Utah, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota, cause such workers to forfeit $7.5 million per year.

"Two legislative proposals in Massachusetts could lead to a repeal. One, filed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr., a North Reading Republican, would provide enhanced jobless benefits to laid-off older workers. A second bill, filed by Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees, a Republican representing the First Hampden and Hampshire district, would eliminate the Social Security unemployment insurance offset."

Source: "AARP hits law that cuts elders' jobless benefits" The Boston Globe (January 10, 2006)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Connecticut Manufacturers Cannot Fill Jobs--Aging Workforce A Big Factor

According to the "2005 Survey of Current and Future Manufacturing Jobs in Connecticut," conducted by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, Connecticut manufacturers are having difficulties filling job openings because of the lack of skilled workers looking for employment with many manufacturers saying that the state’s aging workforce, combined with the inadequate skills of job candidates entering the workforce, will make the problem worse within the next five years.
The median age of manufacturing employees nationwide is 42. Connecticut’s workforce has a median age of 37.4 years, ranking it as the seventh-oldest workforce in the nation. More than three-quarters of Connecticut manufacturers say they expect up to 20 percent of their employees to retire within five years. And 94 percent expect to replace at least some of their workforce by 2010 due to employee retirements.
Source: News Release Connecticut Business & Industry Association (January 4, 2006)

Friday, January 06, 2006

IBM Changes U.S. Pension Plans Effective in 2008

IBM has announced that it has changed its U.S. defined benefit pension plans and that it plans to redesign its 401(k) savings plan, effective in January 2008. Specifically, as part of IBM's global strategy of shifting the future focus of retirement benefits toward the more predictable cost structure of a 401(k), IBM plans include:
  • stopping the accrual of future benefits in the company's defined benefit pension plans, and fully preserving all retirement benefits that employees will have earned as of December 31, 2007;
  • redesigning its 401(k) savings plan by giving current pension plan participants an annual company-funded contribution of as much as 10 percent of their pay;
  • assisting nonexempt pension equity plan participants to save more by providing an annual special savings award of 5 percent of pay to their 401(k) savings plan;and
  • ensuring 100 percent employee participation in the 401(k) savings plan by opening accounts for employees who do not contribute to the plan, and annually depositing the automatic company contribution of 1 to 4 percent of their pay directly into these employees' accounts.
Source: News Release IBM (January 5, 2006)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Switzerland: Firms look to retain their older employees

According to the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper of Zurich, research shows firms including ABB Switzerland are seeking to address an anticipated future shortage in the labour market. The Swiss Employers' Association and the Swiss organisation for the elderly, Pro Senectute, are currently working on guidelines for firms. According to the director of the employers' association, Peter Hasler, workers should be allowed to gradually reduce their working hours before retiring completely.

A spokesman for ABB Switzerland, Lukas Inderfurth, told swissinfo his company was looking at ways of improving its policy towards workers in the 50 plus bracket. "Older workers are becoming more and more important for the firm in view of the evolving demographic situation in Switzerland," Inderfurth said. A key government advisory committee warned in October that a rise in the retirement age was inevitable in the long run, and that the "dogma" of drawing a pension from 65 would have to be abandoned. The government is also in favour of pushing back the age at which workers draw pensions, and has been withdrawing incentives to early retirement.

Source: "Firms look to retain their older employees" swissinfo (January 3, 2006) in English

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Manpower Inc. CEO on The Future Of The Global Workplace

Jeffrey A. Joerres, the president and CEO of Manpower, in an interview with The McKinsey Quarterly, says of the aging population that "[d]emographic issues are hard to solve because they require a partnership between government, which is only in office for a period of time, and business, which has its own quarterly issues to deal with." While he notes that France's notion of retraining—having companies set aside money for a training fund—is very proactive, retraining efforts in the United Kingdom and in Australia-—countries that have an aging problem--are further away. In addition, he notes that a majority of older workers are interested in part-time jobs—-not full-time temporary jobs: "People want to work Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, not for four months on a project. Getting individuals to think beyond part-time work and to take more responsibility for improving their skills will be absolutely key."
Governments can help with tax schemes, training, payroll subsidies—but, ultimately, I'm afraid there will have to be pain associated with this issue before it becomes institutionalized. Without pain, it's just too easy to keep putting it off for somebody else to solve. But it's not just demographics—you can't forget the pure talent gaps. You're going to find 40-year-olds in the same position as someone who's 60, because the 40-year-old simply lacks the skills the company needs. People can't turn on a dime and change a skill set. You can't be a machinist one day and a nurse the next when you're 60. So the demographic crunch is coming, and it will be exacerbated by the talent crunch.
Source: "The future of the global workplace: An interview with the CEO of Manpower" McKinsey Quarterly (November 2005) Free, but registration required

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Attorneys Warn Employers About Discriminating Against Older Workers

Writing for the Knight Ridder Newspapers, Candace Goforth reports that as a result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling making it easier for workers to sue for age discrimination, attorneys are "warning employers to examine their policies to make sure they aren't unwittingly discriminating against older workers and leaving themselves vulnerable to claims." According to Paul Magnus, vice president of workforce development for the nonprofit senior employment group Mature Services, discrimination isn't limited to denying jobs or promotions based on age. Organizations that fail to invest in older workers in the same way they invest in younger ones, namely through training and employee development programs, also may be guilty of discrimination.

Source: "Age bias has major legal consequences" Miami Herald (December 26, 2005)