Friday, December 29, 2006

China: White Paper on Aging Issues Published

China is acknowledging the urgent challenges presented by the country's aging population with the publication of a cabinet-level White Paper on the problem, which is part of an effort to grapple with the prospect of rising social-security and healthcare costs, a tightening labour market, and other potential obstacles to continue rapid economic growth.

The White Paper--"The Development of China's Undertakings for the Aged"--released by the China National Committee on Aging addresses a number of topics, including the old-age security system, health and medical care for the aged, social services for an aging society, cultural education for the aged, participation in social development, and safeguarding elderly people's legitimate rights and interests. With respect to Participation in Social Development, the paper calls for giving senior citizens encouragement and support to integrate into society and continue to make contributions to the social development of China.
In urban areas, governments at all levels guide senior citizens to participate in the fields of education and training, technological consultation, medical and health work, scientific and technological development and application, and care for the younger generation, in accordance with the demands of economic, social, scientific and technological development.

In rural areas, governments encourage people in their 60s to engage in farming, aquaculture and processing activities. Statistics show that among the elderly people of China, in urban areas 38.7 percent participate in public welfare activities, and 5.2 percent still have paid work; in rural areas, 36.4 percent are engaged in farming.
Source: People's Daily Online "China faces grim challenges to cope with ageing population" (December 12, 2006); China Central Television China addresses aging issues" (December 12, 2006); The Brunei Times "China grapples with decrepit population" (December 20, 2006)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Canada: New Strategy Sought To Keep Older Workers Working

According to a story by Gloria Galloway for The Globe and Mail, policy poapers from Canada'a Department of Human Resources and Social Development suggest a new strategy to help older workers stay on the job until they are ready to retire, including restructuring the country's inflexible pension plans. Documents that are part of a four-pillared "Framework for Action for Older Workers" urge the national government to "provide more flexible work to retirement transitions by removing the structural and financial disincentives to continue working" and advocate the creation of a "comprehensive range/suite of employment assistance measures for older workers" including more training and employment services.
The documents, which were obtained by Ottawa-based researcher Ken Rubin, say an increased presence of older Canadians in the work force is key to the country's future prosperity. Because of the aging population, the per capita GDP is expected to fall off sharply, beginning in about 2025. "Optimizing older worker participation is the best means to offset labour market declines."
Source: The Globe and Mail "Help older workers keep working, Ottawa told" (December 22, 2006)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

South Korea: China and Japan Compete for IT Workers To Replace Aging Workers

South Korea, which is having its own aging problems, is losing a significant number of workers to non-Korean employers overseas due to job shortages, according to Moreover, Korean companies are not making enough systematic efforts to retain workers.
China is eying Korea’s high-tech workforce who they think will boost its industrial growth. Grappling with an aging population, Japan is looking for workers who will help relieve itself of the burden of workforce shortages.
Japan is luring more Korean workers to enhance its IT competitiveness and resolve its workforce shortages problem caused by aging. Indeed, the Japanese government and businesses are making hard efforts to recruit Korean and Chinese IT workers under the second-phase “e-Japan” project whose main objective is Japan’s comeback as an IT powerhouse.
Source: "China, Japan Inc. Recruiting Koreans" (December 23, 2006)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Virginia: Hampton Roads Area Needs To Plan for Aging Workforce

According to John W. Whaley, deputy executive director of economics for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, a rapidly aging population in Hampton Roads will cause a slowdown in the growth of the region's labor force and standard of living. In a presentation to commission members, Whaley said the percentage of older people in the region's population would increase as the baby boomer generation ages into retirement. Also, there are fewer younger people due to low birth rates and more older people due to longer life expectancies.
Officials in Hampton Roads must take action to face the impending shortage of workers, he said, suggesting that companies and policymakers should find ways to retain older workers. He also recommended that cities in Hampton Roads should encourage the in-migration of young people from other areas of the country, if not the world.
Source: Hampton Roads Daily Press "Growth of region's work force may ebb" (December 21, 2006)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Australia: Employers Must Address Health and Safety Issues with Aging Workers

Speaking at the 2006 Sydney Safety Show, Product Development Manager, CGU Safety and Risk Services, Angela Micic told listeners that as Australia faces a growing number of older people working and remaining in the workforce, employers must address the OHS problems this trend presents and implement risk management strategies.
A number of prevention strategies are available to employees to minimise risk associated with the ageing workforce in Australia. Risk management strategies will vary depending on jurisdictional occupational health and safety and workers compensation requirements in conjunction with workplace and workplace requirements. Employers need to ensure that work organisation and job design is suitable for all workers, with attention to older workers. The implementation of some of the preventative strategies may lead to improvements in OHS, reduction in injuries and claims and ultimately an increase in productivity and retention.
Source: "OHS issues facing an ageing population" (Decenber 20, 2006)

Commentary: Age-Adjusted Earnings for Corporations?

Matt Miller suggests in a commentary on American Public Media's Marketplace that to get business' attention on health-care and pension issues, the Democratic Congress should require separate income statements that show what earnings would be if companies had average-aged workers.
These days, the drag on corporations of decent healthcare and pension coverage for an aging American workforce is real. But the idea that a firm's success could depend so much on the youth of its workers is also crazy.

A sane nation would look at how to separate business performance from some social sense of what makes for decent health and pension coverage for every citizen.
Source: Marketplace
"Age-adjusted earnings reports" (December 19, 2006)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

California: State Agriculture Must Develop Stable Workforce

Adressing a general session of the California Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Meeting, Victoria Bradshaw, secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, told the federation that one of the major challenges that lies ahead in the area of labor is developing a stable agricultural workforce in California and that, unless California's farmers and ranchers do not build careers and vocations in agriculture, they will be left with an aging workforce and not a replenishing workforce.
"Supply has been a major challenge in the last couple of years. One of the reasons agriculture is having a problem is not any different than a lot of other industries," Bradshaw said. "For agriculture though there is a major competitor out there and that is the expanding construction industry. It is growing at a very rapid pace, some in the infrastructure, some in residential housing, but there is a huge demand for labor and they are offering higher wages and long-term employment."

Another challenge she highlighted is training people to work in agriculture. Unless California's farmers and ranchers do not build careers and vocations in agriculture, Bradshaw said, they will be left with an aging workforce and not a replenishing workforce.
Source: California Farm Bureau Federation News Release (December 13, 2006)

Book: Analysis of Aging Workforce and Strategic Concepts for Enterprises to Survive

Research and Markets has announced the addition of "Managing the Aging Workforce: Challenges and Solutions" to their offerings. Co-authored by Marius Leibold, Professor in Strategy at Stellenbosch University, Nitin Nohria, Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Development at the Harvard Business School, and Sven C. Veolpel, Director of the research group WISE, the book presents an analysis of the present and upcoming situation, and an introduction into the strategic concepts enterprises will need to survive in aging societies.
For companies thus, a number of challenges arise that have to be overcome fast and continuously. The main topics in this field will be new strategies in leadership, new concepts in health management, new ways in knowledge management and learning, as well as new models how to drive ideas for diversity and innovation.

On the one hand, enterprises therefore will have to invest in their aging employees for supporting their talents, helping them to learn and keeping them in the company. On the other, they will have to increase productivity, keep on searching for new products, and integrate experts from abroad. This has to be combined with new ways of strategies and HR management.
"Managing the Aging Workforce: Challenges and Solutions" will be available in the United States in early February. The table of contents is available online.

Source: Research and Markets News Release (December 13, 2006)

Monday, December 11, 2006

FAA Contemplates Raising Mandatory Retirement Age for Pilots, Wall St. Journal Reports

According to an article by Andy Pasztor for the Wall St. Journal, the Federal Aviation Administration, moving away from its longstanding policy that airline pilots must retire at age 60, wants to let them work in the cockpit as many as five years longer. Pasztor reports that after repeatedly opposing similar efforts to change the rules, some U.S. airlines and pilots groups are beginning to soften their stances.
The FAA's apparent change of heart is influenced by the current tight market globally for pilots as well as the lack of recent scientific data demonstrating any clear-cut erosion of safety from extending the careers of pilots, according to one person familiar with the matter. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded the 60-year age limit is discriminatory.
In addition, Pasztor writes that keeping the age limit at 60 is becoming more difficult to defend, following a move by the International Civil Aviation Organization to raise retirement ages at airlines world-wide. A spokeswoman for FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said the industry can "expect a decision relatively soon." However, if a proposal is made, finalizing new regulations could take 18 months or more.

Source: Wall St. Journal "FAA Set to Raise Retirement Age For Pilots to 65" (December 11, 2006 (subscription required)

Massachusetts Facing Shrinkage of Prime Working Age Populaton

A study released by the Massachusetts Institute of a New Commonwealth (MassINC) and the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University has found that the Massachusetts labor force declined by 1.7% from 2003 to 2005 while the national labor force expanded by 3.1% and that most of those who left the labor force were men in two age groups--16- to 24-year-olds and 35- to 54-year-olds.

Thus, according to the study--“Mass Economy: the Labor Supply and Our Economic Future”--one fo the three critical factors for growth in the economy will be incorporating more older workers into the workforce. The combination of the aging of the baby boom generation the declining number of workers in what is considered the “prime working age years” (25-54 years old) will have the result that, in particular between 2010 and 2015, the graying of the Massachusetts labor force will accelerate further.

Source: MassInc and Center for Labor Market Studies Research Report (December 2006)

Other Sources: The Enterprise "Shrinking labor force threatens region" (December 10, 2006); Worcester Telegram "Report says Massachusetts is losing workers" (December 10, 2006)

Halogen Software Introduces Succession Planning Software

In introducing a new version of its Halogen Employee Performance Management Suite, Halogen Software announced that Halogen EPM Suite 8.0 includes Halogen eSuccession™--a succession planning tool based on talent pools. Pointing out that, as millions of baby boomers approach retirement, succession planning is becoming an increasingly urgent business issue, Halogen suggests that eSuccession allows managers to understand their workforce's potential and areas of retention risk, proactively develop employee performance and fulfill succession requirements with the right candidates from talent pools of people ready to meet the task head on.
"The aging workforce is a concern for all organizations. Our goal is to develop the talent of our employees and to prepare them for advancement." said Debbie Clark, senior HR generalist with Oil States International. "Halogen eSuccession is a means to get everybody, from the top down, involved in the process of planning for our organization's future."
Source: Halogen Software Inc. News Release (December 11, 2006)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

United Kingdom: Participation in Defined Benefit Schemes Falls, Retirement Age Rises

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that membership of employer-sponsored defined benefit pension schemes fell from 39% 35% of employees between 2004 and 2005--down from 46% in 1997, when recordkeeping began. Membership of defined contribution schemes increased from 10% to 15% of the working-age population between 1997 and 2005, driven by increases in membership of group personal and stakeholder pensions.

The ONS publication Pension Trends has been updated to reflect this data. In addition, it shows that the average age at which male and female workers withdraw from the labour force is rising. In 2006, it was 64.2 years for men, the highest level since 1984, when data first became available. The average age for women was 61.8 years, the second-highest
on record.

In addition, employment rates of older men and women rose in spring 2006 to the highest levels since comparable records began in 1984. For men aged from 50 to under 65, the employment rate was 72.6% and for women aged from 50 to under 60, it was 67.9%. For men over that state pension age, the employment rate was 9.6% and for women, 11.1%.

Source: National Statistices News Release (Decenber 5, 2006)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Survey: Alabama Firms Not Prepared for Retirement

According to a survey of 348 Alabama employers conducted for the AARP, while 95% percent say it is no less than “very important” for their organization to retain skilled employees, only 11% report having taken actions to prepare for the retirement of baby boom workers.

The report--Alabama Survey of Employers’ Practices for Managing An Aging Workforce--found that in order to accommodate workers interested in working beyond normal retirement age, employers were were planning or considering: (1) enabling employees to ease into retirement by reducing their work schedules (49%); (2) hiring retired employees (47%); (3) providing part-time work arrangements without continuation of benefits (45%); and (4) upgrading training (43%).

Source: AARP Policy & Research Research Report (August 2006)

Other Sources: The Huntsville Times "Too few firms in state are planning for retirement" (December 3, 2006); The Montgomery Advertiser Survey: Firms not ready for boomers' exit (December 5, 2006); The Birmingham News "Baby boomers reaching point of mass retirement" (December 1, 2006)

Friday, December 01, 2006

United Kingdom: Companies Urged To Recruit Older Workers

Taleo, a provider of on demand talent management solutions, and The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) have jointly published a white paper--"Tapping into the Older Worker Talent Pool”--that highlights the opportunity for companies to address the looming skills crisis by recruiting older workers, and provides step by step advice on how companies can execute this strategy.

Despite the the demographic trends in the UK with an ageing workforce that is causing a general shortage of skills, many organisations retain significant biases and misconceptions about recruiting older workers. According to the white paper, "practical recruitment strategies that take advantage of the growing talent pool of older workers will therefore be increasingly critical in creating a competitive workforce in the UK." Specifiically, TAEN and Taleo Research recommend that employers:
  • Consider where you are advertising your job opportunities
  • Word your job opportunities carefully
  • Capture candidate data on compliant, electronic application forms
  • Drive the selection process based on skills
  • Consider re-skilling or up-skilling new or existing employees
Source: Taleo Press Release (November 30, 2006)