Friday, July 30, 2010

United Kingdom: Government Opens Process for Deleting Default Retirement Age by 2011

The United Kingdom's Coalition Government has announced plans for the elimination of the current age 65 default retirement age following a six month transition phase-out from April 2011. Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey is calling on employers, unions and other groups to have their say on a proposal that could allow many people the choice to work beyond the age of 65.

The government's proposal would still make it possible for individual employers to operate a compulsory retirement age, provided that they can objectively justify it. Examples could include air traffic controllers and police officers. In addition, in its consultation, the government asks whether it could provide additional support for individuals and employers in managing without the DRA or statutory retirement procedure. This includes the possibility of future guidance or a more formal code of practice on handling retirement discussions. Views are also being sought on whether removal of the DRA could have unintended consequences for insured benefits and employee share plans.

Click here for a full copy of the consultation.

Sources: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Press Release (July 29, 2010); Personnel Today "Default retirement age: Employment relations minister Ed Davey writes exclusively for Personnel Today" (July 29, 2010)

Reactions: The Age and Employment Network News Release (July 29, 2010); Daily Telegraph "Scrapping retirement age opens 'Pandora's box’ of tribunal claims" (July 30, 2010)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

United Kingdom: Ageism Persists According to Citizenship Survey

Figures published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) as part of the "Citizenship Survey: 2009-10" show that ageism is the biggest single factor for being discriminated against in recruitment. Four percent of all workers aged 50 and over say they have been refused a job because of their age in the past five years. Only those people aged 16-24 has a higher percentage (5%) reporting that they feel they have been discriminated against by recruiters because of their age.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director, said:
The spreading perception of ageism in recruitment shows that, for older workers, the job market is still not fit for purpose.

As more mature workers are pushed into the recruitment arena by the reassessment of welfare-to-work benefits, hundreds of thousands of them will risk coming up against the invisible wall of ageism.

Before forcing people to rejoin the job market or work for longer, the government must lay the foundations of a better job market for older people, with fairness and flexibility as cornerstones.
Sources: Age UK News Release (July 22, 2010); Communities and Local Government News Release (July 22, 2010)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Research: "Traditional" Retirement Recedes as More U.S. Employees Work Past 65

The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire has released a study confirming that, since the mid-1990s Americans are retiring less and working longer, reversing a decades-long shift to earlier retirement. In "Older Americans Working More, Retiring Less", Anne Shattuck reports that 22% of men and 13% of women over age 65 were in the work force in 2009, an increase from 17% of men and 9% of women over the age of 65 in 1995.
When this change first became apparent, it was unclear whether it would be a temporary halt or a reversal of the decades-long decline in work at older ages. however, recent data indicate that the proportion of older adults working for pay is still growing. although the trend began in the 1990s, the current economic recession may be an important reason that it continues.
Among other things, the report points out:
  • men and women work longer in both rural and urban areas<;
  • those with more education work longer;
  • divorce drives many women to work longer; and
  • most work after age 65 is part-time, but full-time work
    is on the rise.
Source: SeacoastOnline"Still working after age 65" (July 19, 2010)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Research: Skill Shortages in Food and Accommodation Industries May Benefit from Aging Population

In published research identifying pressures from low skills, lack of training, and excess turnover in the accommodation and food sectors, the aging population was pointed out as one potential bright spot. According to "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Responsive Action Steps for the Accommodation & Food Services Sector", published by Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, the aging of the population may offer employers in this sector new opportunities to employ new workers in new ways. In particular, "[t]here is evidence to suggest that the job flexibilities available in accommodation and food services offer promise as a means of attracting these older workers."
[Employers in this sector] are experiencing even greater skill shortages than other sectors, employers in accommodation and food services appear to be responding in a more aggressive fashion in advancing flexible work arrangements. Many of these employers, nevertheless, are also operating “in the dark,” and have surprisingly limited understanding of the demographic make-up of their workforces, the skills shortages that may be on the horizon, and the competency sets of their current employees.
While he exit of older workers from accommodation and food services may exacerbate the impact of talent shortages, the impact may be minimized--and the potential for hiring seen--since tis sector is also heavily reliant on younger workers, with only 8% of its workforce in 2007 beibg aged 55 or older.

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication News (June 2010)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Book Explores Industries at Risk and How to Stop Brain Drain from Boomer Retirements

For those worried about the brain drain to follow the retirement of the Baby Boomers, Ken Ball and Gina Gotsill have identified the following industries as ones most likely to feel the impace: oil and gas producers, manufacturers, educational institutions, health care, and government. Their findings, as well as proposals for how employers can assure knowledge transfers, are presented in their book Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus: Capturing Knowledge for Gen X and Y Employees.
"Negative perceptions and image problems make industries such as utilities, oil and gas producers and marketers, and manufacturing especially vulnerable to impending Boomer retirements," the authors write. "These industries aren't drawing the people who might replace mature workers as they step away. Systemic losses, such as hiring practices and cost-cutting, compound the problem and have created an environment where knowledge gaps could impact operations."
Among other things, the book is advertised as a practical, step-by-step guide that managers and leaders can use to analyze their workforce and the impact retirements could have on business continuity. Using templates, checklists and case studies, Ball and Gotsill explore methods for assessing a company's knowledge gaps and explain how to create a knowledge retention, transfer and retrieval plan.

Sources: HR Morning "Ready for talent crisis after Boomers retire? These industries could be hardest hit" (July 16, 2010); AOL Find a Job "Dime Crunch: Baby Boomer Exodus Puts Many Industries at Risk" (July 12, 2010); Cengage Learning Press Release (June 22, 2010)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Australia: Ageism and IT Workers and Call to Increase Labor Participation Rates of Mature Workers

The Australian Computer Society has released a report revealing that Australia’s mature age participation rate in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is below that of comparable countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States, and calling for both a self regulatory code of practice in this area for the ICT sector, and collaboration between government, industry and the Human Rights Commission to create attitudinal change amongst Australian employers.

According to "The ACS Age Diversity Report, Improving Age Diversity in the ICT Workforce," older ICT workers (45 and over) in Australia are perceived as being less healthy or more prone to disability, being underqualified or having obsolete skills, unable to learn new skills, being over qualified, unable to adapt to new or younger work cultures, looking towards retirement so not worth training, resistant to change, and less adaptive to new technologies.
ACS CEO, Bruce Lakin said, “Ageism is a growing reality in Australia - but so is an increasing awareness that workers 45 years and older represent a resource and knowledge base we need to continue to reinvest in.

“While age discrimination can be difficult to prove, its existence, increasing pervasiveness and negative impacts on mature workers and the workplace in general is undeniable. Age discrimination creates unacceptable levels of unemployment and underemployment amongst those over 45 years which has economic, as well as social and psychological costs. With reported skill shortages within the Australian ICT sector, the underemployment of older workers is a problem which demands significant focus. I thank Brenda Aynsley, VP Membership Boards, Chair of ACS Ageism Task Force and her team for their input to the Report,” said Mr Lakin.
Among other things, the report recommends that:
  1. Government, industry, industry and professional associations should partner to build a stronger Australian evidentiary base upon which to go forward – extent of ageism, impacts on unemployment, the reasons why it is happening, under-employment and hidden unemployment.
  2. The development of a government policy and framework to acknowledge and quantify the cost and other impacts of ageism, economic benefits to firms from employing older workers and to educate employers and employment agents on improving age diversity in the workforce.
  3. As part of its commitment to increasing the participation rate of older workers, the Government should develop policy, regulatory and taxation incentives for employers to provide ongoing professional development and to retain and/or hire older workers.
Source: Australian Computer Society Media Release (July 14, 2010)

United States: Older Workers Outnumber Teenage Workers

According to press reports, number of workers over age 65 who are in the labor force has passed the number of teenagers-—workers aged 16-19—-who are in the labor force for the first time since records were kept in 1948. According to some experts, over the past decade older workers have tended to hang on to their paychecks longer, owing to sagging stock portfolios and falling home prices. The disparity in numbers of workers in these two groups, and the high unemployment rate of teenagers, has some calling for a different minimum wage for teenagers and others for lower Social Security age, at least temporarily.

Other commentators, particularly on the New York Times Economix blog, point out that there isn't much meaning other than demographic information to this statistic. In other words, it is a natural reflection of 65 no longer being the Social Security retirement age and of a greater life expectancy. Furthermore, it is a raw number presentation, rather than a presentation of the labor participation rates of those two age groups.

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle "Working seniors outnumber teens in labor force" (July 14, 2010); New York Times "Seniors Outnumber Teenagers in Job Force" (July 15, 2010)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Research: Older Workers Good Fit for Hospitality Industry without Needing New Skills Training

A study of the employment of older workers in a range of organizations from Scotland's hospitality sector and visitor attraction centers, has found that, in terms of older workers, workforce development might best be focused on utilizing existing skills rather than acquiring new ones. According to Dr. Roy Canning of the University of Stirling, "in many cases older workers were very much the sort of people who fit in with what the hospitality industry is looking for. They are flexible and can work seasonal and odd hours for competitive wages, as the post-retirement job often is a supplement for their pension."

Older workers were found to be generally highly valued employees within organizations, especially since they could contribute experiences as former employees from related enterprises and would provide informal support of colleagues. In addition, older workers were seen as reliable with excellent customer service skill-sets and a strong work ethic, and there were few conflict situations between them and younger managers.

Canning first published results of his investigation in "Tapping older workers' experience", the summer 2010 issue of "Society Today", the journal of the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council):
Findings further suggest there is no need to try and shape the occupational identity of older workers. A good fit can be achieved by recruitment and selection followed by appropriate training and development. Training and development interventions for older workers should, on the most part, concentrate on team building, skill utilisation within collaborative practice and encouragement of self-directed learning.
Source: University of Stirling News Release (July 9, 2010)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nursing Shortage Masked by "Flood" of Delayed Retirements

According to a story in USA Today, the National Student Nurses' Association has issued an advisory for new nursing school grads warning them that the job market is "flooded" with experienced RNs who have come out of retirement, delayed retirement or gone from part-time to full-time employment because of the recession. Thus, many newly graduated registered nurses can't find jobs.

While large shortages of nurses are still forecast, the story also cites a June 2009 survey by the association of 2,112 spring RN graduates which found 44% hadn't yet landed a nursing job. This reinforces the findings published in 2009 by Vanderbilt University that the recession was temporarily ending a shortage of nurses, but that projected a nursing shortage of 260,000 registered nurses developing by 2025. USA Today quotes:
"It's enough to do significant interruptions to the health care system and potentially even render it inoperable," says Peter Buerhaus, the study's author and director of Vanderbilt's Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies. He says it's critical for policy leaders to find a way to keep new nursing graduates in the profession through the recession so projected shortages aren't even worse.
Source: USA Today"New RNs find job market tight" (July 9, 2010)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Aging Workforce Can Increase ADA Compliance Costs

According to a news report, a steadily aging workforce and the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are combining to cause the Clark County (Nevada) school system to spend more time and money to accommodate its workers needs. The school's annual report on the district’s treatment of staff notes that, in 2009, the district made 55 accommodations--up from 39 in 2008.

The most common medical conditions that required accommodations were deteriorating-bone diseases or impaired vision, followed by epilepsy and diabetes. Among the accommodations made by the school system were moving people to less physically demanding positions, buying special equipment to help them do their jobs, and remodeling campus facilities.

Source: Las Vegas Sun "Aging School District workforce requires more accommodations" (July 9, 2010)

Commnetary: Raising Social Security Retirement Age, Different Effect on Knowledge Workers and Others

In his economics blog, Ezra Klein and his readers riff on a suggestion by Larry Mishel that raising the Social Security age "makes much more sense for affluent individuals who work in knowledge-oriented industries than for lower-income people whose jobs require more physical labor." This follows posts a year earlier about Klein's own oppostion to raising the retirement age" and a response to that suggesting raising the retirement age to 70.

Klein suggests pondering the suggestion and adds these talking points:
  1. At what age do you want to retire?
  2. An increase in the retirement age could lead to more people going on disability.
  3. If we're going to increase the age at which these folks can get full Social Security benefits, we'd better figure out some solutions to make it easier for them to keep working.
Source: Ezra Klein, Washington Post "More on raising the retirement age" (July 7, 2010)

Additional Sources: MarketWatch "Fix Social Security by hiking retirement age" (July 2, 2010)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

European Commission Calls for Pension Reform including Raising Retirement Age

The European Commission has called on European governments to raise the retirement age because workers are living longer and their pension systems could implode. This is just one part of a broader Green Paper on "towards adequate, sustainable and safe European pension systems" (English).

The Commission found that the fact that less than 50% of people are still in employment by the age of 60 goes against commitments made at the Barcelona European Council to postpone the age at which people stop working by five years and is inconsistent with the objective of reaching the Europe 2020 75% employment rate target.
On present trends the situation is untenable. Unless people, as they live longer, also stay longer in employment, either pension adequacy is likely to suffer or an unsustainable rise in pension expenditure may occur. The impact of the demographic challenge as aggravated by the crisis will tend to reduce economic growth and put pressure on public finances. The 2009 Ageing Report7 showed that, on account of the shrinking labour force, the only source of growth by 2020 will be labour productivity.
The report acknowledges that some European countries have already raises the eligibility age for a full pension in their public pension schemes, and that there is a growing awareness that this represents an important signal to workers and employers, which motivates them to aim for higher effective retirement ages. In addition, some countries have set an automatic adjustment that increases the pensionable age in line with future gains in life expectancy.

The EC has established a consultation and is seeking comments at its dedicated website on the Green Paper. It will analyze all responses and consider the best course for future actions to address these issues at EU level.

Source: European Commission News Release (July 7, 2010)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

United Kingdom: Age Guide for Employers in Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies

SEMTA, the Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, has produced a booklet in collaboration with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to guide and advise manufacturing organizations on how to comply with age discrimination regulation as well as how to ensure an age diverse workforce that will nurture future growth.

The booklet ("Age isn't an issue) provides guidance on a range of workforce issues including recruitment, development, flexible working, and retirement. Among other things, the guide encourages not only equality for job applications and opportunities within the workplace but also encourages employers to be even handed in the way they make vocational training, flexible working, and continuous professional development available.

Source: Manufacturing News "Aging workforce problems" (July 6, 2010)

Related Matter: Satellite Today "U.S. Satellite Industry Addresses its Aging Workforce Issues" (July 6, 2010)

Netherlands: Demographic Research on Age-Conscious HR Policies

According to Dutch researchers, generic policy measures that seek to accommodate older workers--for example, by offering them additional leave or reducing their workload--are often perceived and put into practice as "age conscious" personnel policies, but these actions appear to limit the opportunities of older workers, and very few organizations have personnel policies that are targeted at narrowing the growing productivity-wage gap.

In "How do employers cope with an ageing workforce? Views from employers and employees", Hendrik P. van Dalen, Kène Henkens, and Joop Schippers, used a survey of Dutch employers to examine how employers deal with the prospect of an ageing work force, and they supplemented their analysis with an additional survey of Dutch employees to compare human resource policies to practices.

Results showed that a small minority of employers are taking measures to enhance productivity (training programs) or bring productivity in line with pay (demotion). Instead, personnel policies tend to "spare" older workers by giving them extra leave, early retirement, or generous employment protection. Often, older workers who perform poorly are allowed to stay, while younger workers under similar conditions are dismissed.

Source: Demographic Research Abstract (June 4, 2010)