Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Canada: Oil Industry Facing Skills Shortage

According to a report issued by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, an aging workforce is a chief contributor to the fact that Canada's oil and gas industry is headed towards severe and chronic labour shortages. Specifically, the Council's labour market report--"The Decade Ahead: Labour Market Projections and Analysis for Canada's Oil and Gas Industry to 2020"--finds that over 30% of the industry's core workforce is expected to retire within the next decade, driving the need to hire at least 39,000 workers.

Cheryl Knight, Executive Director and CEO of the Council says that "We are going into a perfect storm....Just when the industry needs workers the most, Canada's labour supply will be dwindling as the overall population ages. Our industry will need to be prepared to face a labour shortage more severe than in 2007." In fact, some oil and gas companies are already coping with chronic shortages for certain occupations, and shortages are expected in all core occupations as early as 2013.

Source: Petroleum Human Resources Council of CanadaNews Release (March 29, 2011)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nevada: Unemployment Statistics Highlight Growth of Older Workers' Participation Rate

Even with a rise of unemployment in Nevada, which has seen the participation rate decline for Nevada’s labor force as a whole fromm 2000 to 2010, it has grown for the state’s oldest workers. Specifically, in reporting the February 2011 unemployment statistics, the state's Department of Employment. Training, and Rehabilitation reported that, during those ten years, the labor force
participation rate in Nevada declined from 70% to 65.6%, while the participation rate for workers 65 and older increased from 12.8% to 20.6%.
The growth in the participation rate of older workers is likely caused by two factors: (1) a social change, marking the ability of older workers to work later into life, and (2) recessionary wealth destruction is forcing older workers to delay retirement due to financial reasons.
Sources: Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation Press Release (March 25, 2011); Northern Nevada Business Weekly "Number of over-65 workers in Nevada continues to increase" (April 4, 2011)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Poland: World Bank Report Recommends Raising Older Worker Participation

A report from the World Bank asserts that the main potential for increasing labor force participation in Poland is among older workers and women. If older workers in Poland were as active as they are in Germany, then the Polish gross domestic product would be up to 6% higher.

Employment is a major focus of the World Bank's report--"Europe 2020 Poland: Fueling Growth and Competitiveness in Poland Through Employment, Skills, and Innovation". A higher employment rate is also critical given the aging population and the growing life expectancy.
The difference between Poland and other EU countries is greatest in the case of older workers, which reflects in large part the, until recently, very generous rules governing early retirement. Specifically, only 35 percent of persons aged 55–64 are economically active in Poland (table 2) compared with the EU average of 51 percent, 58 percent in Chile and 62 percent in Korea (2009 data). This is a significant gap. Closing it is particularly important because the Polish population is aging, and if the gap is not closed, the pension system will be fiscally unsustainable (as will be further elaborated)
The report recommends raising economic activity among older workers (and older female workers, in particular), through reform of social security benefits and development of flexible forms of employment, particularly of part-time employment, increasing skills, and raising the retirement age--specifically by adjusting the retirement age of women to that of men (age 65).

For example, the report notes that "if the number of inactive women aged 55–59 fell by 10 percent the overall employment/population ratio would increase by nearly 0.5 percentage points. In contrast, a 10 percent fall in inactivity among women aged 20–24 would lead to a less than 0.1-percentage-point increase in the overall employment rate." Furthermore, older workers in Poland are provided with incentives to withdraw from the labor force. The availability of disability pensions and early retirement options might make inactivity the preferred choice for many older workers. I

Source: World Bank Press Release (March 21, 2011)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gemany: Europe's First Test of Job Crunch from Aging Workforce

In an article by Larry Elliott and Julia Kollewe in the Guardian, Labor and Social Affairs Minister Ralf Brauksiepe describes how Germany needs to respond to the loss of 5 million workers over the next 15 years as it becomes Europe's first and biggest test of the problems caused by an ageing and declining population, saying that a longer working life and an influx of skilled workers from overseas were the answer to the demographic time bomb.

Since lifting restrictions on labor mobility from EU member states in eastern Europe will lead only to an extra 100,000 workers over the coming years, the phased changes in retirement age between 2012 and 2029, when 67 which will become the statutory retirement age, is most important.
"It must be clear to people that working longer than the age of 65 must be the rule," Brauksiepe said. "I am convinced that in 20 years people won't understand how people were opposed to the enlargement of the working life in 2011."
Source: Guardian"Germany faces up to problem of ageing workforce" (March 17, 2011)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

OECD Pension Reforms Report Also Focuses on Older Workers

The OECD has published Pensions at a Glance 2011: Retirement-Income Systems in OECD and G20 Countries, focusing on pensions, retirement and life expectancy. Among other things, while by 2050 the average pensionable age in OECD countries will reach 65 for both sexes, life expectancy is rising even faster, outstripping the increase in pension ages by about 2 years for men and 1.5 years for women. However, as governments rein in public pension spending rising as a result of population aging, OECD warns that income from work and from private pensions and other savings.will need to fill the gap, so that ensuring that there are enough jobs for older workers remains a challenge.

According to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, "Countries need to do more to fight discrimination, to provide training opportunities for older workers and to improve their working conditions . This would help employers adapt to a greyer workforce."

In addition to providing comparative indicators on the national pension systems provided in the report of the 34 OECD countries, as well as for Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, the report includes special chapters on issues including life expectancy, trends in retirement and working at older ages, and ways to help older workers find and retain jobs.

For example, in highlights about France, the report notes:
In addition, the participation rates of older workers aged 60 and over is low: only 19% of men aged between 60 and 64 years participate in the labor market in France compared to 54.5% on average across countries OECD. This percentage is even lower in the age group 65-69: 5.5% in France compared to 29.3% on average in the OECD. For the long-term success of reforms change in the attitudes towards older people is necessary. Employers, both private and public, must learn to see older workers as a real asset and avoid discrimination towards them, invest in their training and adjust labour market conditions and hours of work when needed.
Source: OECD News Release (March 17, 2011)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey Shows Continued Worker Worries, Delayed Retirement Plans

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reports that 27% of workers now say they are "not at all confident" about retirement, up 5 percentage points from last year. The 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey, EBRI's 21st annual survey, also published as Issue Brief No. 355, also finds that find that a significant number of workers say they now intend to retire later (at an older age) than they had planned.

Specifically, the age at which workers expect to retire continues its slow, upward trend. The percentage of workers who expect to retire after age 65 has increased over time, from 11% in 1991 and 1996 to 20% in 2001, 25% in 2006, and 36% in 2011. Of the 20% polled who say that are going to retire later than originally planned, the main reason cited was the poor economy (36%), a lack of faith in Social Security or the government (16%), a change in employment situation (15%), or because they can’t afford to retire (13%).

In addition, the survey finds more workers now expect to work for pay in retirement, with 74% reporting they plan to work in retirement (up from 70% in 2010), three times the percentage of retirees who say they actually worked for pay in retirement (23%).

Source: EBRI Press Release (March 15, 2011)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Working and Longevity May Go Hand in Hand

As Emily Yoffe writes in Slate, people who keep doing useful work may have the secret to living longer and healthier. Drawing on The Longevity Project, by psychology professors Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin, which presents the end-of-life findings of the Terman study, one of the longest-lasting longitudinal research projects ever undertaken, she finds evidence that maybe retirement should not be seen as the severing of oneself from the work of a lifetime.

Friedman dislikes that notion of retirement, and from his research he's come to believe such an attitude is bad both for society and individuals. Most "of the Terman males (given the attitudes of the times, far fewer of the women Termites worked) had solid, sometimes even exceptional careers. Interviews done with successful Termites in their 70s, several of them lawyers, showed a striking number continued to work part time."

Furthermore, Yoffe notes, those who contemplate retirement as decades filled with leisure and relaxation may be mistaken; fun may be overrated and stress can be unfairly maligned. "Many study participants who lived vigorously into old age had highly stressful jobs."

Source: Slate "Don't Stop Working!" (March 10, 2011)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Digital Divide Separates Older Workers in Job Searches According to UK Research

A study commissioned by the United Kingdom's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the role of the Internet in looking for work reveals, among other things, that many older jobseekers are at a disadvantage because of the digital divide and a number of other variables. DWP's Research Report No. 726--"Job Search Study: Literature review and analysis of the Labour Force Survey"--was authored by several researchers from the University of Warwick and found that over four out of five job seekers made use of the Internet to look for work but a number of factors influenced those overall figures, one of which was age.

Focusing just on the report's findings with respect to older workers, the following results were noted:
  • Younger people were more likely to use multiple job search methods than older people.
  • Job seekers aged 16-29 year and older job seekers aged 50-69 years were more likely than those in their thirties and forties to nominate visiting a jobcentre, job market or training and employment agency as their main method of job search.
  • Social networks as a job-search method were used slightly more by younger job seekers (notably those aged 16-29 years) than by older job seekers.
  • Around 87% per cent of jobseekers aged 25-29 and 84% of 30 to 34 year olds used the Internet to search for work, while only 75% of those aged 50-54 did so, 72% of those 55-59 years old, and 62% of those 60-64 years old.
Sources: Department for Work and Pensions Press Release (March 3, 2011); TAEN--The Age and Employment Network News Archive (March 7, 2011)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

New Zealand: Research on Encore Careers Finds Older Workers Happier, Healthier

In an article for The New Zealand Herald, Greg Fleming writes about encore careers and draws on a Waikato University study focused on encore careers--meaningful work, paid or unpaid in the second half of life--which has found older people who work are happier and healthier than those who don't.

Fleming also notes that the study found that not all older workers experienced smooth transitions and that some of those surveyed for the research struggled to find meaningful work, found employment agencies unhelpful, and success often depended on individual initiative. He quotes research fellow Dr. Margaret Richardson of the Waikato Management School: "Many managers had negative stereotypes of older workers believing that they were unable to change and lacked the appropriate job-seeking skills such as how to write a CV and how to present at interviews."

Richardson, along with Mary Simpson and Ted Zorn, has also presented a paper on ""Out the Door," "Back for More," or "New Horizons": Multiple Meanings for Encore Careers" at the 2010 at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association. In this paper, the authors set out preliminary findings of a study into New Zealanders’ experiences with encore careers, and the authors illustrate the different discourses and meanings that encore workers and, to a lesser extent, managers associated with their experiences in or with encore careers—in paid or voluntary work.

Source: The New Zealand Herald "Older workers choosing work over retirement" (March 6, 2011)

France: Government Adds Incentives To Increase Employment of Older Workers

In order to build on the momentum created by legislation raising the retirement age in France, French employers are are to get a €2,000 bonus from the government if they hire job-seekers aged over 45, but they also face a surcharge on their wage bill if they have too few apprentices or young trainees. According to an article in The Connexion, the bonus comes on top of €2,000 already paid by the Pôle Emploi job centre for taking on over-26s and an exemption of social charges for taking on over-45s.

The necessity for this can be found in Bruce Crumley's article Time magazine, which recounts Sarkozy's success in raising the retirement age in France by two years, but points out that this law will not succeed unless Sarkozy "persuades French bosses to play along; they have a nasty habit of dumping employees older than 50." As Crumley notes, barely 40% of French people ages 55 to 64 are in the workforce as compared to an OECD average of 54%, and U.S. and British levels of around 60%. Furthermore, he notes, there is an attitude among French employers that older employees are handicaps rather than assets continues to harden, citing a 2007 survey finding that 50% considered 45-to-55-year-old workers already old.

Crumley follows up with remarks from Sorbonne sociology professor Anne-Marie Guillemard, author of "The Challenges of Aging: Age, Employment and Retirement," focusing on how many people approaching 50 are marginalized with busywork by employers, and what might need to be done about that. "Aging employees don't want to stop working, but when they see more than a decade of dead-end activity awaiting them in a place that wants them gone, most accept some sort of agreement terminating their job in exchange for a payout," says Guillemard, and then collect unemployment and other assistance until they reach pension age.
In French

Sources: Time Magazine "France's Labor Paradox" (March 14, 2011); The Connextion "€2,000 for hiring older workers" (March 2, 2011)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Europe: Survey Shows Age Most Widely Experienced Discrimination

Age UK has released results of a survey showing that age discrimination is rife in Europe. Some 64% of those interviewed in the UK and 44.4% across Europe judged age discrimination as a serious problem, making it the most widely experienced form of discrimination. Even though there is heightened awareness of ageism as an issue, the European Social Survey (ESS) data analysed for Age UK by the University of Kent shows that people in later life continue to face many subtle forms of prejudice which perpetuate the idea of older people as passive, needy and frail.
Employment is an area where age discrimination is a huge problem, despite recent legislation tackling the issue. The majority of those interviewed said they would find it easier to accept a suitably qualified 30-year-old as a boss than a 70-year-old with exactly the same qualifications. People over 50 felt extremely concerned that employers would always prefer to hire a person in their 20s rather than an older person. In the UK 49.7 per cent of those interviewed cited this as a problem.
Among other things, the report warned that subtler types of prejudice are as harmful as overt discrimination as they make it difficult for older people to feel empowered and able to assert their preferences and choices.

Source: Age UK News Release (March 3, 2011)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

South Korea: Government Thinking about Raising Retirement Age

According to news reports, the South Korean government is cconsidering raising the average retirement age to 60 from the current average of 57 to lessen the impact of the retirement the country's baby boomers. Bae Ji-sook, writing for The Korean Herald, states that, while The "Baby Boomer Committee"--an affiliate of the Economic and Social Development Commission, a group representative of employers, employees and the government--is planning to submit a related bill to the National Assembly, he notes that the plan is expected to face fierce opposition from both employers and employees.

This is not a new conversation, as the article refers to a 2010 survey by online recruiter SaramIn of member employers. According to that, 61.4% said a rise in retirement age was necessary, and about 49% said they needed the skills and experience of older workers, followed by companies seeking stability, craftsmanship and other qualities.

Kim Rahn, writing for The Korea Times, states that the Korea Employers Federation opposed setting a legal retirement age.
“We acknowledge the need for older people to remain in the labor market. But those workers usually receive higher wages according to the seniority system, so extending the retirement age through fixing it by law will weaken corporate competitiveness,” an official of the federation said.

“Instead, we propose the government prepare measures to reduce companies’ labor cost burden, such as not turning non-regular job status of workers aged over 55 into regular ones after two years of employment.”
Sources: Korea Herald "Korea may raise retirement age to 60: report" (February 28, 2011); The Korea Times "Legislation sought to change retirement age to 60" (February 28, 2011)