According to ExperienceWorks, an organization that helps older adults find work, by the year 2020, nearly 25% of workers will be age 55 or older. Older women, veterans, and workers with special needs will make up an increasing percentage of the workforce, and many will be staying in the workforce far beyond “retirement age” due to shrinking pensions and dwindling or inadequate retirement assets.
While many older workers fear being pushed aside and out of their jobs by younger, more dynamic employees, their skills and abilities are likely to be more in demand than ever before. Skills and abilities of older workers are not so much declining as shifting, and while physical strength is surely declining with age, for some abilities our bodies actually have a remarkable capability to maintain them.
Age Discrimination in the Workplace
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 20,588 charges of age discrimination in 2014, a rise from 17,837 a decade earlier. Although the number dropped from a peak of 24,582 in 2008, legal and employment experts said it is a common phenomenon that will increase with millennials eager to enter the workforce and baby boomers reluctant to leave it.
Although the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 prohibits discrimination against people 40 and older, a 2013 survey of 1,502 adults by non-profit advocacy group AARP showed that two-thirds of workers between the ages of 45 to 74 said they have seen or experienced ageism.
Why Hire Older Workers?
AARP’s Business Case Report indicates that, in addition to their work experience, the value of hiring mature workers includes:
- Low turnover rates — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median job tenure for workers in the 55 – 64 age range is about 3.3 times that of workers 25-34 years old.
- Punctuality — they show up on time.
- Honest — personal integrity is high among this age group.
- Good listener — a key to good customer service skills.
- High levels of engagement — Towers Perrin found that workers age 55 and older are the most motivated, while the youngest workers are the least motivated.
- Skill levels — Mature workers have higher skill levels in the areas of math, reading and writing.
AARP, formerly known as The American Association of Retired Persons, has some excellent resources for older job seekers on their website. They include:
- National Employer Team: This program connects individual jobseekers with employers who are actively recruiting and hiring mature workers.
- Retirementjobs.com: AARP is partnering with Retirementjobs.com which is a job board for mature workers.
- AARP career site: AARP offers information and resources for individual jobseekers related to resume writing, interviewing and job search skills
- AARP WorkSearch: – This tool helps individuals assess their skills and identifies gaps in skills and training one can obtain to enhance their skills.
- AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program: This program helps low-income individuals with on-the-job training.