Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Worries that Aging Workers Will Bring Brain Drain to Indiana

According to a report, whose findings will be shared at the “Managing the 21st Century Workplace: Value and Impact of Older Workers” conference, nearly 29% of Indiana residents will be age 55 or older by 2030, versus 22.4% in 2005. Thus, Chris O'Malley reports, "employers and economic development leaders, already lamenting that 36 percent of Indiana college graduates leave the state after graduation, may now have another 'brain drain' to worry about."

While some economists say fears of a labor shortage are unfounded because of expected productivity gains and other offsetting factors, Barry Spiker, a senior fellow at the University of Indianapolis’ Center for Aging & Community, warned: “We’re facing a crisis that’s just never been seen before in this country, ever.”

The conference will share new statewide data, including the findings of “Gray Matters: Opportunities and Challenges for Indiana’s Aging Workforce,” a report written by former Indiana Economic Development Council President Graham Toft and Nadine Jeserich, now both working at local economic development firm Thomas P. Miller & Associates. According to the report, as older workers leave the work force, Indiana won’t see as much of a brain drain as many other states, however, since only 11% of the state's population 55 or older holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, placing it 46th among all states. In addition, only 16% of that population are in high-skill occupations—placing Indiana 42nd. Finally, Indiana ranks dead last in coaxing older workers back to college.

Source: "Employers brace for age shift" Indianapolis Business Journal (May 15-21, 2006)

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