Saturday, June 30, 2007

Vermont: Older Workers Key to Economic Future of State

The New England Council has issued the latest in its series of reports on New England’s aging workforce, this one focusing on Vermont which the report indicates has a somewhat larger and more rapidly growing share of the older population than the rest of the nation.

The report, which was prepared for the Council's Older Workers Initiative by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, finds, among other things, that all of Vermont’s labor force growth, and population growth, in the future will be among those aged 55 and older and that the Vermont working age population will age rapidly over the next 10 years.

Accordingly, Paul Harrington, Associate Director of Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, said "the state will increasingly have to rely on the older population for labor supply."
“The aging of Vermont’s population has several consequences for overall economic growth in the state. Without sizable increases in skilled foreign immigration and or migration of residents from other states in the nation into Vermont, the state’s population will continue to grow older and the consequent decline in the childbearing age population will continue to reduce the already low birth rate in the state,” Harrington said.
Source: The New England Council Press Release (June 26, 2007)

Europe: Is "Active Aging" a Viable Response to Demographic Changes?

According to an article in, European legislation aimed at delaying retirement is having little impact, as employees push for an early exit from the labour market while companies continue to lay off older staff. Following on the need for effective policies to promote opportunities for an aging workforce, "active ageing" is being discussed as a way to keep the support ratio (the number of people of working age per person over the age of 65) bearable: "The concept of active ageing refers to the idea of remaining active as we age by working longer, retiring later, engaging in voluntary work after retirement and practicing healthy-ageing lifestyles."

The article reports on a special session on active ageing, which asked whether active ageing is the only response to demographic change and whether it can work for both companies and employees. Speakers addressed various issues, including how to overcome employers' reluctance with regards to increasing the activity rates of older people, good practices with regards policies in favor of participation in employment and the productivity of the aging workforce, and empowering people to invent new models to organize their lives differently.

Source: Euractiv "Workers unenthusiastic about 'Active Ageing'" (June 5, 2007)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rhode Island; Governor Signs Bills Banning Social Security Offset

Rhode Island Governor Carcieri has signed into law bills that forbid the state Department of Labor and Training from taking into account Social Security benefits when calculating the amount of unemployment compensation. According to a report in the Providence Journal, Carcieri said “Individuals receiving Social Security have earned it from years of work. They are entitled to it and should not be penalized for it. They deserve to receive full unemployment benefits while they look for another job.” In addtion, he said, “This legislation will encourage Rhode Island seniors to remain in the work force [for] as long as they can continue making a positive contribution to the economy.”

Source: Providence Journal"Older workers no longer punished" (June 26, 2007)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ireland: Conference Hears about Active Aging and Keeping Older Workers

Angela Long reports that conferees were told that "Ireland faces serious economic consequences unless it encourages older people to remain in the workforce." The conference--"Active Ageing & Labour Market Trajectories" was organized by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and ASPEN (the Active Social Policies European Network).

Among other things, Long reports that Professor Brendan Whelan, Research director of TILDA, said that the number of working people for everyone over the age of 65 will fall from four to 2.5 by 2027. Other speakers spoke of concerns for funding pensions because of these changes, but "Donal Casey, chief executive of Irish Life Corporate Business, said that Ireland is in a better position than most other countries to cope with the problem" because it has a comparatively young population, unlike other countries, such as Germany and Japan, which are already feeling the impact of the aging population.

Source: "Keep older workers, experts say" (June 26, 2007)

United Kingdom: Aging Workforce To Triple by 2017

Research conducted by Aon Consulting shows that UK employers need to prepare for an aging workforce as 78% of employees anticipate working beyond 65. While only an estimated one million are currently working past the state pension age, AON suggests that this would treble amongst people aged 65-70 by 2017.

According to its research, a quarter of respondents would carry on working past the official retirement age simply because they wanted to, while 53% believe it will be necessary to increase their pension. In comparing different regions, AON reorts that 57% of Newcastle workers were committed to topping up their pension, while 49% of Scottish employees would do so.

Source: AON Consulting News Release (June 25, 2007)

Survey: Mature Workers Most Likely To Use Communication Tools in the Workplace

In its eighth annual survey of top business issues and evolving workplace trends that impact employers and employees, Ranstad USA reveals a divergence between generations’ use of and resistance to particular communication tools in the workplace. In its World of Work 2007" survey, Randstad focused on employee productivity, retention and morale and found that, in 2007, employees’ efficiency and output replaced technology as the key source of productivity gains.

With respect to older workers, the survey had two intererstng findings. First, with respect to use of workplace communication tools:
Gen Y, the youngest generation with a reputation for being technologically savvy, is overall the least likely to use communication tools in the workplace, including computers, faxes, personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile and landline phones. The “power-users” proved to be the Matures, the oldest generation, who were well into middle age when the personal computer was introduced, and the youngest of whom were 50 years of age when business discovered the Internet.
Second, with respect to the retiring boomer generation:
However, the generations who stand to benefit the most from the job opportunities care the least. Half of Gen X and merely 36 percent of Gen Y employees feel the shortage is a reality compared to Matures and Boomers, at 69 and 68 percent respectively.
Source: Ranstad USA Press Release (June 25, 2007)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Senate Aging Committee Holds Hearings on Aging Farm Workforce

The ranking Republican on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Sen. Gordon H. Smith, introduced the panelists at a hearing on aging and agriculture by saying "There has not been too much discussion on the aging demographics of American agriculture" and pointing out that "Right now, nearly a quarter of farm operators in this country are 65 years of age or older. That contrasts with only 8 percent of that age class in non-agricultural industries."

The hearings covered a wide range of issues from immigration, to schooling, to estate taxes, reflecting the crisis outlined by Derek Godwin, Staff Chair and Watershed Management Extension Specialist, Oregon State Unversity Extension Services, Salem, Oregon, one of the panelists at the hearing:
In the last two U.S. Census of Agriculture reports the average age of farm owners continues to increase towards 60 years of age. This means that our communities and society in general can anticipate an unprecedented transfer in ownership of land-based business over the next couple of decades. In addition, the value of agriculture property has appreciated significantly over the years which adds complexity to how and if farms will transition to the next generation. We are at a critical stage in planning for the future of agriculture: recruiting and training the next generation of farmers and ensuring farms will continue to be viable, healthy operations. Every family owned business has to deal with transitions, but it seems to be reaching crisis proportions in agriculture.
The hearings are availalbe on a webcast.

Source: Senate Special Committee on Aging "Harvest Over The Horizon: The Challenge of Aging in Agriculture" (June 21, 2007)

Other Sources: Wisconsin Ag Connection "Hearing Looks at Effects of Aging Farmers on Ag Economy" (June 22, 2007)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Canada: Recommendations in Quebec To Stop Encouraging Early Retirement and Pushing Normal Retirement Age to 67

According to an Economic Note published by the Montreal Economic Institute, economist Norma Kozhaya, ending the encouragement of early retirement right away and gradually pushing back normal retirement age from 65 to 67 are among the measures needed to reduce the impact of aging on Quebec's public finances as well as to ease labour shortages. The Note--"The retirement age in Quebec: A worrying situation"--concludes that “it is essential to start the necessary reforms right away before demographic phenomena lead to lower economic growth that will reduce wealth creation in Quebec.”

The focus of the Note was the fact that the aging of the population and the impending mass retirement of baby boomers are already starting to create labour shortages and will soon cause weaker growth in the economy. The goal of the recommendations was to suggest a number of moves that could be considered to raise the participation rate of older people on the job market and to reduce the negative economic effects of aging while helping maintain the viability of existing retirement plans.

Source: Montreal Economic Institute Media Release (June 18, 2007)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Survey: Older Workers Least Likely To Share Career Goals with Employers

Most employees are not candid with their manager about their career aspirations, according to a nationwide survey of employed Americans by BlessingWhite, and the older a worker is, the more likely that the worker will not be candid. While reporting that 56% of employees seldom or never share their career plans with their employer, BlessignWhile found that:
The strongest predictor of career reticence is age. The older the employee is, the less likely the individual is to share career plans. Seventy-four percent of respondents aged 65+ are seldom or never candid about their career plans. This compares to 65% for those 55-64, 61% for those 45-54, 58% for those 35-44, and 45% for those 18-34.
Source: Blessing White Press Release (June 18, 2007)

United Nations Issues Report on Economic Development and Aging Society

According to a report from the United Nations, aging is having a profound impact on economic and social development worldwide, but policy responses put in place ahead of time could ease adaptation and harness the benefits of long-term demographic changes.

"World Economic and Social Survey 2007: Development in an Ageing World" provides objective analysis of pressing long-term social and economic development issues, and discusses the positive and negative impact of corresponding policies.
Greater longevity is an indicator of human progress in general. Increased life expectancy and lower fertility rates are changing the population structure worldwide in a major way: the proportion of older persons is rapidly increasing, a process known as population ageing. The process is inevitable and is already advanced in developed countries and progressing quite rapidly in developing ones.
While the report suggests that sine developing countries still have a growing youth population, strong growth in their labour force may open a unique window of opportunity for economic development if required policies are put in place,it also notes that in many developing countries the process of population aging is taking place at a much faster pace and at lower levels of income than it did in developed countries. "At current trends, by 2050 almost 80 per cent of the world’s population of 60 years and older is expected to live in what are now developing countries."

Among the reports conclusions:
  • Fertility and migration policies could delay, but will not avoid population ageing;
  • Negative effects of slower labour force growth can be offset by increasing both overall labour productivity and participation rates for women and older workers in ageing societies;
  • Improved working conditions for older persons can extend working life and enhance their contribution and participation in the economy; and
  • Old age pension systems must be based on multi-pillar systems, but with a universal social pension scheme at its basis to provide a minimum of income security and keep older persons out of poverty.
Source: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Press Release (June 19, 2007)

Canada: Report on Workforce Development Challenges in Ontario

Colleges Ontario's "2007 Environmental Scan" provides an analysis of economic trends in Ontario and suggests there is an urgent need for a comprehensive skills and workforce development strategy to increase the province’s competitiveness.

Among other things, the report says that by 2015, the number of young people will begin to decline resulting in a greater demand on people already in the workforce to have skills and knowledge that are current and effective. The industries to be hit first by the declining youth population will be those employing young workers, such as accommodation and food services, retail, information, and culture and recreation. On the other end of the age spectrumm, sectors that employ older workers, including health care, manufacturing, energy, and the public sector will be hit by the retirement boom as the first of the baby boomers reach the age of 65 years starting in 2011.
“As the economy relies more heavily on older workers, skills upgrading and retraining for existing workers will continue to grow in importance,” said [Linda Franklin, President and CEO of Colleges Ontario]. “The fact is too many people don’t have the right skills for the jobs that are available. And those working will require continuous education and re-training throughout their lives to update and transform their skill sets to use new technology and meet new needs.”
Source: Colleges Ontario News Release (June 19, 2007)

Monday, June 18, 2007

United States: Census Bureau Begins Releasing State-by-State Profiles of Older Workers

The U.S. Census Bureau, in partnership with Iowa, has released the first in what will be a series of 31 reports on older workers that presents a detailed picture for people 55 and older in the work force in different states. Individual reports will present data at the county and metropolitan area levels for 2004, based on data from the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) program.

In this first report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Iowa: 2004", the Census Bureau highlights the age composition of the state’s work force, job gains and losses for older workers by industry, industries in which older workers are concentrated and their job stability and earnings. For example, data presented for industries in which older workers are concentrated shows that workers age 55 and older are the most visible in the manufacturing industry, accounting for 18.3% of the workforce and this industry was ranked number one in 48 of Iowa's 99 counties.

Source: Census Bureau News Release (June 18, 2007)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Canada: Forecast for Labor through 2031

Statistics Canada has published labor forecasts through 2031 showing that Canada's labor force will continue growing, but the overall participation rate will fall sharply, in the wake of the nation's low fertility and the retirement of millions of baby boomers.

According to the study--"Labour force projections for Canada, 2006-2031", among other things, the number of workers for every retired person aged 65 or older would be reduced by half between 2005 and 2031, falling from about four in 2007 to slightly more than two in 2031. In 1981, this ratio was more than five workers per inactive senior. In addition, the proportion of the labour force aged 55 and older is expected to reach between 18% and 20% in 2021, about double what it was during the mid-1990s.

The study also found that that the rapid aging of the labour force will continue to have an impact on the labor market at least until the early 2020s.

Source: Statistics Canada Daily (June 15, 2007)

Survey: EBRI Reports More Americans Working into Older Age

An analysis of U.S. census figures by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) shows that the U.S. labor-force participation rate is increasing for those age 55 and older. In addition, the increase for those ages 55–64 is driven almost exclusively by an increase of women in the work force, while the labor force participation rate increased for both men and women age 65 and above.

Published in the June 2007 EBRI Notes, the article--"Labor-Force Participation: The Population Age 55 and Older"--reports that, in the "near-elderly" 55–64 age group, labor force participation for women increased from 57.1% in
1993 to 66.7% in 2006; for men, participation dipped from 78.3% to 77.7% in those same years. For those age 65 and older, participation among men rose from 14.8% to 20.3% and for women from 8.1% to 11.7%. EBRI also compares the participation rate for those without pension income to those with pension income.

Source: EBRI News Release (June 12, 2007)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

United Kingdom: Small Businesses Slow To Adapt to Post-65 Work Rules

A study prepared by Lloyds TSB Business and the SERTeam at the Open University has found that three quarters of Britain’s small firms (with fewer than 50 employees) have yet to put in place procedures to allow their employees to carry on working beyond 65, with 45% saying they were still undecided as to whether they would implement the procedures and 28% claiming they intended to do so. Only 25% of the firms had put in place the ‘right to request’ rules for employees,

Even if they haven't implemented the rules yet--some fearing red tape or rising costs, most firms recognize that there is a need to retain older workers.
Despite the apparent reluctance to encourage staff to work beyond the age of 65, more than a third (34 per cent) of those surveyed said they were bracing themselves for a drop in the number of younger workers over the next decade. Amongst larger firms this view was even more widely held, with 57 per cent of firms employing 20-49 people expecting a fall in younger employees.
Source: Lloyds TSB Business News Release (May 25, 2007)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Conference Board Issues Report on Baby Boomers and Non-Profits

In conjunction with the Civic Ventures' announcement of its BreakThrough Awards, the Conference Board has made a preliminary release of its own report showing that non-profit organizations could be hard hit by talent shortages exacerbated by the large cohort of baby boomers soon entering the retirement years, but that there will be opportunities as well.

According to the report--"Boomers Are Ready for Nonprofits, But Are Nonprofits Ready for Them?" authored by Jill Casner-Lotto--non-profits have not invested significantly in their human resource management, putting their limited resources instead toward their mission. In addition, many funders restrict their support to specific programs or services as opposed to broader human resource development. This under-investment in managing talent has led to some of the challenges non-profits now face in terms of staffing, leadership, and succession. However, The advent of retirement for a vast majority of baby boomers also brings opportunity for non-profit organizations--a considerable number of baby boomer employees in the private sector are considering a move to the nonprofit sector where they can use their experience and skills in social purpose work.
"But action is needed now," says Casner-Lotto. "Evidence suggests that non-profits are seriously lagging behind the government and private sectors in efforts to both retain highly skilled potential retirees within their organizations and actively recruit older hires from other industry sectors."

For example, few nonprofit organizations have developed flexible work options to meet baby boomer preferences. The report describes some best practices underway in the nonprofit sector, as well as an overview of private and public sector responses.
The Conference Board Mature Workforce Program will continue research on these nonprofit issues with a fall launch of a new Research Working Group on Managing an Aging Workforce at Nonprofits.

Source: Conference Board Press Release (May 31, 2007)

Civic Ventures Gives "BreakThrough Awards" to 10 Firms Employing Workers Over 50 in Public Interest Jobs

Civic Ventures has announced the winners of the first-ever BreakThrough Award, designed to shine a spotlight on the nonprofit and public sector organizations that are providing meaningful public interest jobs for people over 50. The award, funded by MetLife Foundation, honors 10 nonprofits and public sector agencies located in large and small communities across the United States.
One of the key qualities that the winners share is flexibility, which includes offering part-time and full-time positions, varied workday schedules, telecommuting, on-site child (and grandchild) care, labor union membership and the ability to shape positions to fit skills and schedules. Employers that accommodated the schedules, commutes and other needs of their workers were more effective at recruiting, hiring, utilizing and retaining employees. As a result, some BreakThrough Award winners report lower turnover rates and less absenteeism for employees over 50 compared with younger counterparts. Other winners report that older workers--because of fuller life experiences - are often better at handling crises and interpersonal issues.
The winners were Allied Coordinated Transportation Services, Inc. (Lawrence County, PA)--using drivers over age 50 for door-to-door transportation services for older adults, the sick and disabled, and children whose mothers are in welfare-to-work programs; Leesburg Regional Medical Center and The Villages Regional Hospital (Leesburg, FL)--following five years of a recruitment and retention program aimed at those over 50, nearly half of their employees are over 50; Mature Worker Connection, a program of the Pima Council on Aging (Pima County, AZ)--offering free job placement services for people over 50; Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, Inc. (Lexington, KY)--paying ombudsmen aged 50 to 80-something to help with just about everything (dealing with family members and lawyers, advocating for better care, running personal errands and spending time with residents); Older Workers Leading Success, a program of Cleveland Metroparks (Cleveland, OH)--recruiting older workers for part-time and seasonal positions inside the agency's offices and outside at hiking trails, the zoo, golf courses and for winter sports; Rainbow Intergenerational Child Care Program, a program of the Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers of Dade County (Miami, FL)--employing 30 workers over 50 who share traditions from their native land with the preschoolers from that same background; ReServe, Inc. (New York, NY)--source of skilled employees over 50 for dozens of New York City nonprofits and city agencies; Retiree Work Opportunities Program, The University of California, Berkeley Retirement Center (Berkeley, CA)--connecting former staff to current short-term or part-time openings; Troops to Teachers (Washington, D.C.)--a small federal program helping 10,000 eligible military veterans become public school teachers in high-needs schools; The YMCA of Greater Rochester (Rochester, NY)--recruiting older employees to match their changing demographic.

Source: Civic Ventures News Release (May 31, 2007)

Additional Sources: The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle "
YMCA honored for treatment of older workers"
(June 2, 2007)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

United Kingdom: Tesco Issues Phrase Guide so Older Employees Can Understand Younger Workers

According to news reports, Tesco is issuing employees over retirement age with a phrasebook listing more than 30 of the most common phrases used by teenagers so that older workers to help them understand and communicate with their younger colleagues.

For example, for older workers "getting caned" means receiving six of the best in the headmaster's study and "rank" is one of the few things told to the enemy, along with one's name and number. However, the phrasebook points out that rather than a beating, "caned" means doing something to excess, and "rank" means disgusting or horrible.

Source: The Daily Mail "'That's phat, brotha! Innit?' Tesco issues guide to teenage slang for its older staff" (May 31, 2007)

Friday, June 01, 2007

United Kingdom: Older Workers More Responsible about their Own Training

In its annual survey of learning at work, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) reports that, among other things, The older the worker, the more likely they are to feel responsible for their own training and development. According Practice Makes Perfect: A NIACE briefing on learning at work, when asked where the main responsibility for the training and development of workers lay--with the worker, their employer, or shared between, only 28% of the youngest workers, aged 17-19, felt the main responsibility lay with themselves, whilst 41% of 55 plus employees thought they bore the main responsibility.

Source: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education Press Release (May 24, 2007)