Monday, April 02, 2007

Wisconsin: Effect of Aging Workforce on Milwaukee's Employers

Elizabeth Hockerman, writing for the Small Business Times in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reports that Milwaukee employers will soon be confronted by a severe labor shortage caused by a cascade of aging and retiring baby boomers, who will be followed by a much smaller generation. Among other things, she reports on a report by Senior Service America that Wisconsin’s labor shortage will be particularly acute: “All of the growth in the working-age population of Wisconsin (by 2015) will be generated by persons 55 and older … The graying of the Wisconsin population will clearly accelerate after 2010 in the absence of a substantial increase in either domestic in-migration or a sharp rise in foreign immigration.”
Before employers look to train unskilled workers or entice college students and young professionals to stay in the Wisconsin workforce, they are going to have to work with their older employees to find ways to keep them on board even after they plan to retire.

“We are lucky in a perverse way that many boomers have not planned well enough for retirement – they will be seeking to continue to work and earn an income,” said Sammis White, director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Workforce Development, associate dean of the School of Continuing Education and professor of urban planning. “But employers must be convinced that they should look to the boomers as part of the solution for the impending worker shortage. They definitely must be.”
Hockerman writes about some Milwaukee employers that are responding flexibly with, among other things, mentoring programs and plans to become an employer of choice among older workers.

Source: Small Business Times The Graying of Milwaukee (March 2, 2007)

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