Older Workers & Our Economic Recovery
Our aging workforce has been one of the most important issues facing our country. By 2024, older workers will represent the largest single segment – 25% – of our labor force. This is good news. Older workers bring much-needed experience, emotional intelligence, and generational diversity to our workplaces.
But we must prepare our older workers for what comes next, especially our low-income workers. And that has never been more urgent than now, when we are discussing our nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
COVID-19 has led to unprecedented unemployment, especially within our older workforce. History tells us that older workers will face the highest hurdles when the economy reopens. After the last recession, older job seekers only had a 40% chance of finding a job within 18 months.
And, the jobs they do find are often the least resilient. Nearly 6 million workers 55 and older work in retail and food service. Workers who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may need to put their own health at risk to re-enter the workforce and earn a paycheck.
Older workers must be part of our Nation’s discussion on economic recovery post-COVID. The Center for Workforce Inclusion, with nearly 60 years of experience, is leading the way. We work with partners to build innovative, cutting-edge approaches to workforce development. We provide training and guidance to bring our low-income, older workers back to our workforce. And, we focus on low-income, older job seekers who have been underserved by traditional workforce development including women, Veterans, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
We have assessed the future of the American workforce and created a strategic vision on how best to prepare the growing segment of older workers for the next century. In 2019 and beyond, our goal is to expand to all 50 states, become the national leader in the 50+ workforce space and create platforms that generate 50% of our income from non-federal sources.
By 2024, 25% of the American workforce will be age 55+. The Center has innovative workforce development programs creating economic empowerment for older Americans, with a particular focus on underserved groups including low-income women, veterans, and formerly incarcerated workers.
More than half of unemployed Veterans are age 45 or older. However, the majority of workforce programs for Veterans are only available to younger Veterans. The Center bridges the gap by providing access to the training needed for emerging jobs and careers.
Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers
One in four American adults has a criminal background. Older workers who were formerly incarcerated not only face the same challenges as older workers but the additional barriers associated with their criminal history. The Center, through our sister innovation hub, CWI Labs, provides a path to stable employment, one of the biggest levers to reduce recidivism.
By 2050, the number of women 55 and older is projected to grow by more than 26 million. Most of the increases in the labor force participation among older workers will come from women. However, the employment hurdles facing women only magnify with age. The Center has extensive experience working with low-income women to create a path to meaningful work.
While the economies of some cities stagnate, others thrive. Prospering cities foster innovative ecosystems that emphasize multiple elements including workforce development, informed political leadership, education, research centers, and private universities There is no “one size fits all” – it must be localized. The Center approaches each urban workforce development program with a tailored approach to the people and key industries within that specific city.
Older workers in rural settings have a unique employment challenge because of specific barriers posed by rural settings, coupled with the specific skills required by rural industries. The Center is in key areas to reach dispersed rural older workers. The Center’s partners have relationships and expertise with rural communities to provide scalable workforce development solutions and training in the skills required by employers in rural communities.
There is a socio-cultural bias toward a shrinking youth workforce. All the while, the 50+ workforce in America is a beckoning frontier on the verge of discovery. We choose to lead workforce development of 50+ Americans and transform the economy and generations of workers.Gary A. Officer, President & CEO