July 26, 2018

Is there an Unconscious or Conscious Bias for hiring older workers??


By Joan Andrews, RTWBC

The average length of unemployment for the roughly 1.2 million people 55+ who are out of work: seven to nine months. Studies show that older workers have a more difficult time in finding a job than younger workers and much more to lose.  Older workers do not want to become a burden on society but will become so if employers continue to overlook their skills and experience

The Skills Gap Reconsidered... 

A stunning 33% of job seekers ages 55 and older are long-term unemployed, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. The average length of unemployment for the roughly 1.2 million people 55+ who are out of work: seven to nine months.  The job-finding rate declines by roughly 50% within eight months of unemployment, according to a 2016 paper by economists Gregor Jarosch of Stanford University and Laura Pilossoph of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Not long ago I spoke with a fellow recruiter about the dilemma of the long term unemployed and why it was a problem.  I was stunned by his response, “if they are long term unemployed, there must be a reason…”; a shortsighted comment to say the least.  As recruiters, I believe that it is our responsibility to advocate for both employers and all job candidates including older workers who have been unemployed long term.

Studies show that older workers have a more difficult time in finding a job than younger workers and much more to lose - their house, college tuition bills, health care costs and diminishing retirement savings, if available.  

Older workers do not want to become a burden on society but will become so if employers continue to overlook their skills and experience. What will their future look like if they are unemployable?  What impact will their absence in the workplace have on our overall economy in the upcoming years?  These are questions that industry should begin to consider as part of its strategic growth planning.

Older Worker  Advocates

The New Start Career Network (NSCN),founded at Rutgers (NJ) in 1997, saw the need and the challenge of older, unemployed workers.  In New Jersey, the statistic is 4 out of 10 unemployed individuals are older and unemployed for greater than 6 months.  NSCN offers counseling and networking to aid and promote the value of older workers.  

Since 1982, Operation A.B.L.E., Inc.,  has provided older job seekers with training programs and employment services.  Its mission and passion is to empower the community of older workers who need job support services to re-enter the workforce.  The program offers a variety of services including occupational, computer skills and  job search training and support, coaching, counseling, midternships, and apprenticeships. 

AARP has provided guidance and insight for older Americans since 1958.  Fostering the value of those 55+, AARP sponsors Future of Work@50+, a multiyear initiative that analyzes problem areas, highlights what clients have learned and, most important, suggests policy solutions to ensure that older Americans have access to good-quality jobs and develop the skills they need to retain or obtain them.
Organizations such as these help dispel the fear that older workers 

  • Are not “tech savvy”, 
  • Going to leave when they find a job at higher pay or 
  • Are “stuck in their ways”
  • Are out of work “for a reason”

In reality older, experienced workers have been found:

  • To be great team players, 
  • Eager to learn new tasks, 
  • Technically competent, 
  • Able to provide guidance and mentorship to newer workers, 
  • Supportive of the company brand.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 40 percent of people age 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. That number, the 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.

‘Smart-growth’ employers plan to implement growth and succession strategies. However, in light of the 35% of millennial workers, are employers and talent acquisition professionals ignoring the increasing pool of older workers (25%) able and willing to delay retirement and continue working?  As today’s skills gap widens, experienced workers might be the solution for open jobs that will sustain economic growth, provide much needed training for younger workers, and serve as the driver for succession planning.


Perhaps the skills gap can be addressed at both ends of the workforce...


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Ready To Work Business Collaborative, founded by a collective of Fortune 500 companies, is committed to working cooperatively to develop hiring best practices that target the long-term unemployed, under-employed, people with disabilities, military veterans, and Opportunity Youth. The RTWBC accomplishes this mission through collaboration, thought-leadership, and services that support employers who desire to serve these talent pools better.

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Ready To Work Business Collaborative works cooperatively to help employers develop hiring best practices that target the long-term unemployed, underemployed, people with disabilities, military veterans, and Opportunity Youth.

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