Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Canada: Professor Urges End to Mandatory Retirement

Terry Gillin, a sociology professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, urged delegates at British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell's Council on Aging and Seniors' Issues to work towards total elimination of mandatory retirement. In calling on the province to change the Human Rights Code, which currently prohibits age-related discrimination for those 19 or older and less than 65, he said that forcing people to retire from their jobs when they turn 65 amounts to age discrimination and affects the poor, immigrants, and women the most.

Source: 680 News "Mandatory retirement means poor, immigrants, women lose out" (June 27, 2006)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Singapore: Age-Friendly Employment Practices Guide Issued

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency has issued an Age-Friendly Employment Practices Guide to encourage employers to adopt human resource practices that can help them better tap on the strengths of older workers. Targeted at employers, CEOs, managers and human resource practitioners, the guide provides examples of best practices and case studies that should help in better leveraging the skills and experience of older workers through the adoption of age-friendly HR practices.

The guide provides practical tips and case studies in 6 key areas:
  • Recruitment;
  • Remuneration and Benefits;
  • Job Redesign and Automation;
  • New Work Arrangements;
  • Re-employment Policy; and
  • Managing Career Transitions.
Source: Singapore Workforce Development Agency Press Release (June 26, 2006)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Accenture Study Includes Report on Talent Time Bomb

According to the "Accenture High Performance Workforce Study"--conducted approximately every 18 months, most senior executives report that their workforces lack the skills their companies need to achieve market leadership, and even their critical functions do not perform as strongly as they should. Among other things, 60% of the executives reported that, over the next five years, they expect to begin feeling the impact of the aging workforce and the impending retirement of baby boomers: "Of those, 28% said they are feeling the impact now. Almost one-half (43%) of participants described talent sourcing as a challenge or a severe challenge, primarily because of a smaller or shrinking talent pool from which to choose."

Source: Accenture News Release (June 21, 2006)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pennsylvania: Governor Announce 2020 Vision Project for Aging Population

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has issued Executive Order 2006-04 Pennsylvania 2020 Vision Project directing all agencies under his jurisdiction to develop plans to meet the challenges of serving an older population. Among other things, the project will evaluate the impact of the aging population on the workforce of the commonwealth.

Source: Governor's Office Press Release (June 22, 2006)

Survey: Older Workers Rank Flexibility First Factor for Retirement Jobs has released the results of a survey of 50+ job seekers showing that entrepreneurship ranked at the bottom of a list of key job factors baby boomers and active retirees consider for an ideal retirement job, while flexibility ranked at the top. Seveny percent ranked flexibility or lifestyle integration, as compared to only 30% rating entrepreneurship as being important.

Defining a retirement job as any kind of work one does after retiring from a long term career or returning to work after age 50, analysts from identified a qualitative set of likes and dislikes among people in their careers after age 50: “What’s In, What’s Out.”

Source: Press Release (June 21, 2006)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

South Korea: Leaders Adopt Social Convention Aimed at Aging Population

Seo Dong-shin reports in The Korea Times that, after five months of discussion among business, labor, and religious and civic groups, South Korea's government has adopted a social accord aimed at battling problems arising from Korea's falling birthrate and aging population. Among other things, "labor and business circles, for their part, will attempt to create more job opportunities for women and seniors, according to the accord."

The government has also agreed to continue discussion on ways to extend the retirement age of workers, while labor and businesses will negotiate on how to improve the retirement and wages system.

Source: The Korea Times "Korea Adopts Social Pact to Battle Low Birthrate" (June 20, 2006)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Singapore: Singaporeans Ready and Willing To Work Past 62

The findings of a retirement study, released at a forum organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, revealed that 41% of Singaporeans polled want the Government to increase the retirement age. Presenting a Singapore-focused look at HSBC's "Future of Retirement" survey, Dr Sarah Harper, director of the United Kingdom's Oxford Institute of Ageing, which conducted the survey, was quoted by Singapore Today as saying: "The message that is coming out of Singaporean people and the Singaporean employer is that we value older workers and we want to work longer."

The Institute has made available Dr. Harper's PowerPoint presentation.

Source: "Singaporeans want later retirement age: Survey" (June 16, 2006)

Aging Workforce a Top Challenge for Electric Industry

Black & Veatch Corporation has identified the aging workforce as the second of 10 challenges to the electric industry, "challenges which, if not adequately addressed, could threaten power system integrity and lead to significant rate increases." Black $ Veatch reports that half the workforce is likely to retire within a decade, so that "companies must develop the means to preserve the knowledge that will walk out the door and find skilled replacements for the retiring staff."

According to Richard J. Rudden, Senior Vice President, the firm's Enterprise Management Solutions division will be undertaking a survey to explore these big challenges and to analyze them in depth, and it expects to publish the results in the fall.

Source: Black & Veatch Press Release (June 20, 2006)

Monday, June 19, 2006

OECD States Governments and Businesses Erried in Pushing Early Retirements in 1990's

Virginia Galt reports in the Globe and Mail that new research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests that governments and employers made a mistake, "which has returned to haunt them," by introducing early retirement schemes in the 1990s to push out older employees.
“Many older workers were induced to leave by very generous early retirement schemes, but relatively few young people were subsequently hired in their places,” John Martin, the OECD's director of employment, labour and social affairs, said at a forum in Toronto Thursday.

Now, with overall unemployment rates down but youth jobless rates still well above the international average of 6.6 per cent, employers are starting to complain about shortages of skilled labour, and policy makers are grappling with how to keep more of their experienced older hands in the work force.
Source: The Globe and Mail "Early retirement schemes a mistake, OECD says" (June 15, 2006)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Commentary: U.K. Employers Warned About Specifically Hiring Older Workers

In light of the survey showing that UK employers may be actively recruiting older workers, some employment experts are cautioning that employers may have the misconception that they will be complying with the age discrimination legislation coming into effect in December if they just boost their quota of older workers.

However, under the age equality regulations, businesses may only target a certain age group if they are under-represented in the workforce, but they must be careful not to exclude other groups. Richard Smith, employment services director at Croner, says "active recruiting of specific ages is not" allowed. Rather, Croner recommends the follwoing for creating an "age positive organization":
  • Audit policies and procedures to ensure they encourage fair and non-discriminatory treatment and communicate them to employees
  • Train managers on any potential issues they face and how to deal with those issues
  • Take prompt action if issues are raised
  • Give clear feedback on inappropriate behaviour
  • Monitor statistics on age profile in your workforce
  • Talk to/survey all employees to identify common areas of concern
  • Role model positive, inclusive attitudes and behaviour
  • Explore behaviours/values at the recruitment stage
  • Create a "life-long learning" culture throughout the organisation
  • Introduce team building exercises/buddying/mentoring schemes
Source: Croner Press Release (June 15, 2006)

Monday, June 12, 2006

United Kingdom: Survey Finds Businesses Actively Recruiting Older Workers

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's annual "Recruitment, Retention and Turnover Survey," United Kingdom organizations "are responding to recruitment difficulties and new age regulations by adapting their recruitment and retention policies and actively targeting older workers." Specifically, the survey finds that 70% of employers are actively seeking to recruit people aged between 55 and pension age, while 31% are seeking to recruit people already entitled to the state pension.
Nicola Monson, author of the report, says, “It is encouraging to see that so many organisations are introducing age diverse practices ahead of the new regulations in October. This enables employers to tap into the relatively unused talent pool of older workers to overcome recruitment difficulties and help build an age diverse workforce that can add real value to business, not just in terms of older workers but all age groups. However in order to recruit fairly and remove any age bias there is still much that can be done, for example removing any age-related criteria from the application process.”
The full report will be available on CIPD's website after June 21.

Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Press Release (June 12, 2006)

Companies Boost Elder Care Benefits To Aid Veteran Employees

An article by Kim Leonard for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review outlines how Verizon is taking steps, like many other companies, to help valuable, veteran workers in their 40s and 50s through the stress and confusion of providing care for aging family members. "Many big and small employers already are easing sick time policies and making schedules more flexible, allowing baby boomer workers to fit in needed visits to a frail parent and trips to doctors' offices."
"Baby boomers, comprising the biggest bulge in the population, are at the time of life when their parents are in their 70s, 80s and 90s," said Cliff Shannon, president of SMC Business Councils, representing about 4,000 small manufacturers in the region.
After Verizon noticed that more of its veteran employees were looking for advice on caring for elderly parents or other relatives, it added to its benefits ao that now employees "can find resources on an internal Web site, speak to a counselor and even arrange for a six-hour home visit by a geriatric specialist." As for other companies, Shannon doesn't see SMC members adding paid time off benefits for caregivers, but "there is an understanding that employees ought to be able to use vacation and sick time" to help parents whether they live at home or in assisted living or nursing facilities.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Ma and pa care" (June 11, 2006)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Survey: Older Workers Less Likely To Take Office Supplies for Personal Use

Older workers are less likely to make off with office supplies for personal use than younger workers, and they are more prone to feel guilty about it, according to a survey conducted by Spherion Corporation and Harris Interactive.

According to the survey of 1,630 employed adults, 18% report having taken office supplies for personal use in the past year, but when broken down by age, nearly a quarter of workers 18 to 29 report that they have taken supplies compared with 13% of workers age 50 and over. In addition, 17% of those 18 to 29 don't believe taking office supplies for their own use is wrongwere unapologetic versus only 7% of older workers at least 50.

Source: MarketWatch "Young workers more apt to take office supplies for personal use" (June 8, 2006)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Conference Board To Launch Maturing Workforce Rresearch Initiative.

A grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies USA, Inc. is enabling the Conference Board to launch a three-year program to study the inclusion and engagement of late-career workers in corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Specifically, the Board intendes to examine the practices and policies of major employers and business community leaders and related concerns and needs of today's mature workforce and to share promising practices for creating and maintaining a workforce inclusive of all generations.
The maturing workforce initiative at The Conference Board will convene separate Research Working Groups on mature workforce issues in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Marketplace opportunities related to the aging U.S. population will also be addressed in research from the Consumer Research Center at The Conference Board.

The Conference Board work will look at mature workers in two distinct roles-as employees and as potential retirees. It will focus on problems facing mature workers, the costs and value of mature workers, the hidden values of their job satisfaction, the impact of rising healthcare costs on these workers, emerging opportunities from aging consumer markets, prospects for building a better intergenerational workplace, and models for retirement. It intends to create new strategies to help major employers leverage the skills of employees who are late into their careers. The initiative will also periodically issue timely briefings and updates.
Source: Conference Board News Release (June 7, 2006)

Retirement Index Shows U.S. Workers Falling Short for Retirement

According to a new National Retirement Index developed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR), almost 45% working-age households are “at risk” of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. Published as CRR Issue Brief No. 48, "Retirements at Risk: A New National Retirement Risk Index" suggests, however, that the situation is not hopeless: "if people choose to work longer--even just two years--and save 3% more, they can substantially improve the outlook for their retirement security."

The National Retirement Risk Index measures the share of working-age households who are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement.

CRR has also published a full report

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Press Release (June 6, 2006)

Aging and National Credit: Standard and Poor's Reviews Global Graying

On May 31, 2006, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services published a report outlining various simulations through 2050 of the fiscal and hypothetical sovereign ratings implications for 32 sovereigns, including all 25 EU members, as well as Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. While the commentary article "Global Graying: Aging Societies and Sovereign Ratings" is only available to subscribers to S&P's RatingsDirect, they have also been publishing country by country reports, some of which speak to aging workforce issues. Some of these (Germany, Belgium, France)are available for free to people who register at S&P's website and others have had some press coverage.
A key conclusion of the main report is the fall-out that ageing may have on government solvency. Without further adjustment either to the current fiscal stance or to pension and health care costs, the median general government net debt-to-GDP ratio for the sample will reach an overpowering 180% of GDP by the middle of the current century, from 33% in 2005.
Publically available country specific reports include:Source: Globe & Mail "Nations get 'wake-up' call about aging workers" (June 6, 2006)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Connecticut: Governor Signs Bill To End Social Security Offset for Worker's Comp

On May 30, 2006, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed into law a bill to end the policy of cutting the worker's compensation payments to disabled employees if those workers collect or qualify for Social Security, one of ten states to do so. Passed by the state senate as Senate Bill No. 25, proponents said the offset hurt aging residents who've kept their jobs or returned to the workforce to supplement their income.

Source: Public Act 06-84 and legislative history.

Additional Source: "Senators say state's older employees hurt by worker comp policy" Associated Press (April 28, 2006)

France: Government Proposes Helping Unemployed Older Workers

According to an AFX News story in, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has "unveiled proposals aimed at boosting employment among older workers, notably via the creation of a new medium-term jobs contract." Specifically, a 'Senior Fixed Term Contract' would be available to unemployed persons over 57 years old, would last 18 months, and would be one-time renewable.

The government's proposals would also, over union objections, phase out a tax on companies that fire workers over 50 years old, with the government arguing that the tax discourages firms from hiring such employees.

The proposals were also announced on the Prime Minister's website.

Source: "France unveils jobs-for-seniors plan" (June 6, 2006)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Unretirement: Financial Incentives for Continuing to Work

Nearly a quarter of older workers who describe themselves as "retired" are still working, either full time or part time, and many say working longer pays them big dividends--financial, emotional, or both. Paul J. Lim, writing for U.S. News & World Report, details many of these advantages of "unretirement." Among other things,
  • working longer gives retirees more time to save--"If you keep working for even two additional years, that's two more years to sock away money into your retirement accounts."
  • retirees can delay taxes by postponing withdrawals from 401(k) and traditional IRAs;
  • one can delay tapping into Social Security and thus boost monthly payments;
  • retirees can maintain healthcare coverage; and
  • retires can reduce their withdrawal rate in retirement.
Source: U.S. News and World Report "It literally pays to work, and money can buy peace of mind" (June 12, 2006)

Aging Doctors Contribute to Looming Physician Shortage

Writing for the Los Angeles Times about how an aging America will need more doctors, but supply isn't keeping up, Lisa Girion reports that just as aging baby boomers will push urologists, geriatricians and other physicians into overdrive, much of the nation's physician workforce also is graying and headed for the door.

Specifically, "a third of the nation's 750,000 active, post-residency physicians are older than 55 and likely to retire just as the boomer generation moves into its time of greatest medical need." In fact, by 2020, "physicians are expected to hang up their stethoscopes at a rate of 22,000 a year, up from 9,000 in 2000. That is only slightly less than the number of doctors who completed their training last year."

Source: Los Angeles Times "Physician Shortage Looms, Risking a Crisis, as Demand for Care Explodes" (June 4, 2006)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Canada: Job Growth for Older Workers

In reporting that employment in Canada increased for a 13th consecutive year in 2005, Statistics Canada also reported that the employment situation for older workers aged 55 and over has become increasingly brighter. In 2005, 29.9% of this population had jobs, up from 29.0% in 2004, the ninth consecutive annual increase in their employment rate since hitting a low of 22.0% in 1996.

The report also shows that more workers are nearing retirement than ever before. In 2005, an estimated 3.6 million workers were within 10 years of (or older than) the median retirement age of 61. They represented 22.1% of the total, up from 10.3% in 1986.

Source: Statistics Canada News Release (June 1, 2006)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Japan: Justice Ministry Proposes Increasing Foreign Workers To Offset Aging Workforce

According to news reports, a Justice Ministry panel has recommended that Japan should limit the number of foreign workers allowed into the country and require those who are let in to acquire a command of the Japanese language.

Japan is debating ways to boost its aging workforce while taking into account public fears that admitting more foreign workers could lead to a rise in crime. Accordingly, the head of the panel, Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono, has suggested limiting the proportion of foreigners to 3% of the population, compared with 1.2% now. People with specialist skills should be favored over manual laborers, according to a ministry press release on the report.

Source: "Japan panel proposes limits on foreign workers" (May 31, 2006)