Looking at the Aging Workforce through a New Lens
Many businesses are facing a critical shortage of experienced professionals, with industries such as accounting citing “lack of skilled personnel” as the #1 challenge for three quarters in a row. Much of the conversation is centered on the skills gap, high retirement rates for “boomers,” and the inability to find the skills employers are looking for in the younger workforce.
What employers must realize is that even though boomers are retiring from the office, they aren’t leaving the workforce.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 40 percent of people ages 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. That number, known as a labor force participation rate, is expected to increase fastest for the oldest segments of the population—most notably, people ages 65 to 74 and 75 and older—through 2024.
In contrast, participation rates for most other age groups in the labor force aren’t projected to change much over the 2014–24 decade. Another study from Prudential found that one third of independent contractors are boomers – a subset of the economy that is gearing up to be a mighty and powerful force.
For hiring managers to attract top talent, they must view the aging workforce through a new lens. Today, we consider those 65+ to be “older” and less skilled or capable. But we must shift our perspective on age. The average life expectancy for a man is 80 years old, and for a woman the average is 85 years. A 50-year-old is no longer a “senior.”
A Shift in Perspective
By 2020, more than 50% of the workforce will be over the age of 55. We have CEOs and politicians in their 70’s and still at the top of their game.
In fact, recent research on the aging brain found that over the age of 50, our brains get better at problem-solving and decision-making, skills that will be crucial as AI takes over lower level jobs.
In 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 18,376 claims of age discrimination and found that 65 percent of older workers say age is a barrier to getting a job.
Employers that recognize this challenge, and the opportunity that comes with hiring “vintage” employees, are finding new talent with a high level of job commitment, employer loyalty, openness to mentor a younger generation of professionals, and a diverse knowledge base that can be applied to a variety of business challenges.
The process of hiring a “vintage” employee is not the same as any other job candidate, but organizations like Work at Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE) are dedicated to carefully matching older, qualified professionals to the talent needs of companies. They help employers overcome the preconceived notion of an older workforce, using blind hiring practices to let competencies and skills speak for themselves.
When hiring managers mobilize the older workforce, it’s a win-win. Companies get highly skilled workers with the talent they need and retiring workers get to continue their career.
Original article published: https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/blog/post/looking-aging-workforce-through-new-lens