Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older Workers

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As older workers become a larger proportion of the workforce, they need adequate programs to overcome potential barriers to reemployment. State programs, community colleges, community-based …

As older workers become a larger proportion of the workforce, they need adequate programs to overcome potential barriers to reemployment. State programs, community colleges, community-based organizations, and private organizations offer training and services to assist this population.

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  • 1. Public and Private Strategies for AssistingUnemployed Older WorkersPrepared for:Boston College Center on Aging and WorkPrepared by:Maria Heidkamp and Carl Van HornJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce DevelopmentMarch 14, 2008
  • 2. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 2IMPLICATIONS OF AN AGING WORKFORCE Older workers will become a larger proportion of theworkforce in the coming decades. 7 in 10 older workers plan to continue working full orpart time following “retirement” from their main job Nearly half of older workers must continue to workbecause they need the income or to obtain health careprior to age 65.
  • 3. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 3OLDER WORKERS ARE ESPECIALLYVULNERABLE TO JOB LOSSOlder workers are: more likely than younger workers to be laid off — 25% ofunemployed, but 33% of long term unemployed; less likely than younger workers to find another job — 75%of workers 25 to 54 were reemployed versus 61% ofworkers 55 to 64; and earning less income if they find another job — unemployedworkers with 20 years of job tenure find jobs that pay 20%to 40% less than previous job.
  • 4. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 4OLDER WORKERS EXPERIENCE SEVERALBARRIERS TO REEMPLOYMENTMany older workers: need new skills to find another job, yet have limited access totraining, lack the confidence and job search skills to find another job, must change industrial sectors in order to find another job, have health problems or physical disabilities and limitations, and experience age discrimination.
  • 5. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 5OLDER WORKER UNEMPLOYMENT HASBROAD EFFECTS Individuals and Families — mental and physical healthproblems, financial stress, homelessness. Communities — outmigration, loss of communityengagement. Businesses and the Economy — losses in productivity andpurchasing power. Society — losses of tax revenue and rising social costs.The negative effects of older worker unemployment areexperienced by:
  • 6. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 6EMPLOYER ASSISTANCE TO OLDERUNEMPLOYED WORKERS Employer-funded support for laid-off workers (e.g.,severance pay, transition services) is not available for mostworkers. Small and medium-sized businesses are less likely thanlarger employers to provide assistance to laid-off workers. Employees with less education and lower incomes (under$40,000) are less likely to receive post-employmentbenefits than those with more education and higherincomes. Employer-funded post-employment assistance isdiminishing as companies face pressures to cut costs.
  • 7. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 7FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE TOOLDER UNEMPLOYED WORKERS Federal policy does not recognize older workers as avulnerable population. Nearly all federally funded workforce programs are nottailored to the needs of older workers. The few programs that are set aside for older workersreceive modest funding and serve a small number ofpeople.The public workforce system provides limited services forolder workers:
  • 8. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 8UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE Unemployment Insurance — partial and temporary (usuallyno more than 26 weeks) income support — benefits lessthan 4 in 10 unemployed workers. Many low-income, part-time workers are not eligible. More than 1 in 3 unemployed workers exhaust theirbenefits before returning to work. Unemployment Insurance rules make it difficult to receivebenefits while involved in education and training programs.
  • 9. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 9TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE (TAA) Income support and retraining available for 50,000 to70,000 workers who lose jobs due to foreign trade. Less than 10% of TAA participants are 55 or older. Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance, a five-year demonstration program that is targeted to older,low-income workers who are willing to forgo training,has low participation rates.
  • 10. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 10FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT AND TRAININGPROGRAMS Nationwide system of One-Stop Career Centersprovides information about job openings, careercounseling, and training. It receives modest fundingand is not focused on older workers. Less than 1 in 10 participants in federally fundeddislocated worker programs are 55 years and older. Barriers to greater participation by older workersinclude lack of funding and performance measuresthat discourage administrators from enrolling olderworkers.
  • 11. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 11SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICEEMPLOYMENT PROGRAM (SCSEP) Part-time community service jobs program for low-incomeindividuals 55 or older. More than two-thirds of older adults who obtain federallyfunded employment and training assistance are enrolled inSCSEP. However, SCSEP serves 90,000 people annually — lessthan 1% of the eligible population; placements intounsubsidized employment are low.
  • 12. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 12STATE GOVERNMENT-FUNDED PROGRAMSFOR OLDER UNEMPLOYED ADULTSDozens of states fund programs to retain workers, prior to or after layoffs, and/orsupport enhanced services for older workers.Customized Training: Nearly all states finance training grants to individuals or companies to supportincumbent worker training intended to avert layoffs or prepared unemployedworkers for new jobs. None of these programs is specifically focused on older workers, but theybenefit from them.Example:Michigan’s “No Worker Left Behind” program may train up to 100,000 adults inhigh-demand occupations or help them set up new businessesUnemployed, low-income individuals receive up to 2 years of free tuition atpostsecondary institutions.
  • 13. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 13STATE GOVERNMENT-FUNDED PROGRAMSFOR OLDER UNEMPLOYED ADULTSEnhanced Services for Older WorkersSeveral states are better coordinating and focusing employment and trainingservices for older unemployed workers.Example:Arizona’s Mature Worker Initiative will increase the percentage of workers over age50 participating in the workforce. The initiative includes: changing policies, reallocating resources, and engaging employers andcommunity leaders; implementing a statewide mature worker job bank; developing a certification program for mature-worker friendly employers; and assigning Elder Services Specialists and training staff on aging worker issues toeach state One-Stop Career Center.
  • 14. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 14COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND OLDERUNEMPLOYED WORKERSCommunity colleges are revising and expanding programs to serveolder adults.Most of older workers enrolled in community colleges are there togain skills for new jobs/careers.Example:Portland Community College (PCC) is collaborating with AARP, theState of Oregon, and the Portland One-Stop Career Center to supportolder workers and encourage businesses seeking to retain or hireolder workers.PCC has modified its educational programs to serve the special needsof older student populations, offering courses in a compressed formatdesigned to help people get to back to work.
  • 15. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 15NONPROFITS AND OLDER UNEMPLOYEDWORKERSExamples: AARP is supporting the WorkSearch Assessment System at 20locations. A web-based assessment system geared to low-income,low-skilled job seekers, it also provides community-level job andcareer information and over 1,200 job-specific online courses. The International Association of Jewish Vocational Servicesdeveloped employment assistance programs for older workers atseveral affiliates. It offers web-based services to Baby Boomersand older workers and “2Young2Retire” workshops on financialplanning, volunteerism, lifelong learning, and career transitions.Dozens of national and community-based nonprofit organizationshave initiated services focused on older unemployed workers.
  • 16. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 16CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Older workers — especially those with limited financial resources and who lackinformation about navigating the labor market — will increasingly seek helpfrom an overwhelmed and under-resourced public workforce system, or localcommunity service provider, or purchase help from private individuals andorganizations. Neither the federal Unemployment Insurance or Workforce Investment Actprograms are well positioned to serve older unemployed workers. Specialized federal programs for older workers have limited resources andfeature narrow service models. States, community colleges, national nonprofits, and community-basedagencies are developing a diverse array of programs for older unemployedworkers. The private for-profit sector is also developing fee-based services for olderunemployed workers, but these services may not be affordable for most.
  • 17. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 17CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Government, business, education, nonprofit, and communityleaders should address the growing gap between the need and thesupply of affordable, high-quality assistance for older unemployedworkers. This can be achieved by:– allocating more resources to existing programs,– better integrating government and community-based reemployment services,– better integrating government benefits with employer-funded benefits, and– redesigning programs to fit the needs of older workers. Innovative service models supported by national and community-based nonprofits should be evaluated to determine the extent towhich they are effective in serving the needs of unemployed olderworkers. Very limited information is available about public and privatelyfunded older worker programs and about what works best toassist older workers.
  • 18. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 18QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION What strategies are private employers using to assist olderunemployed workers? To what extent are employers collaborating withgovernment agencies and/or nonprofits to provideaffordable, high-quality assistance for older unemployedworkers? What strategies and programs for older unemployedworkers are effective in your community on in others youknow about?- Government programs - Educational institutions- National and local nonprofits - Fee-based services What additional steps should be taken in order to designand implement more effective strategies?
  • 19. Public and Private Strategies for Assisting Unemployed Older WorkersJohn J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development 19Maria Heidkampheidkamp@rci.rutgers.eduCarl Van Horn, Ph.D.vanhorn@rci.rutgers.eduwww.heldrich.rutgers.edu