Job Prospects for the Aging Population

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  • 0:01 An Alternative to Retirement
  • 0:40 A New Schedule
  • 2:34 Aligning Person & Job
  • 4:38 Age Discrimination
  • 5:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christine Serva

Christine has an M.A. in American Studies. She is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.

In this lesson, we consider what options an older adult has when they want or need to keep working rather than fully retire. We will also highlight the challenges faced by older job applicants.

An Alternative to Retirement

Carlos isn't planning to retire any time soon. At 68 years old, he's decided he wants to continue working in some form so he can have structure in his schedule and feel that he is involved in something productive and intellectually stimulating. He's ready to change what he's been doing for work, but he's decided that full retirement isn't right for his situation. What are Carlos' options? From arranging a new schedule to acquiring a new set of skills, this lesson will look at the choices he has as an older adult who would like to - or who needs to - keep working.

A New Schedule

Since he is collecting payments from Social Security and has savings as well, Carlos may have the option to work part time rather than full time. He could arrange for this with his current employer or obtain another job that has this different schedule. Perhaps he would like to shift to offering his work on a contract basis, rather than on a typical schedule as an employee. If his skills are in demand, this may work out as a positive scenario for both Carlos and his employer.

Not every older adult will have this option of reducing their income voluntarily since some people must work full time into their older years to sustain themselves financially. They may also lose needed benefits if they go from full-time to part-time work. Those with an advantaged socioeconomic status, like Carlos, will have more flexibility when it comes to deciding whether to reduce or increase working hours. Most of those who work in their older years continue to work a full-time schedule.

If his industry allows it, Carlos may opt to take on an entirely new way of working, such as remote work - working at home, online, or by phone. In this case, Carlos may have a typical full- or part-time schedule, or he could have an alternative schedule in which he determines when and how he works as long as he produces the desired volume and quality of work.

Workers over 65 have historically received lower average pay than the rest of the workforce. Those who have trouble finding work may be forced to work a schedule that is less flexible rather than more flexible. They may need to work for a low rate of pay or even minimum wage, and their choices for what job to take may be reduced.

Aligning Person & Job

As he plans his future working life, Carlos may find that he wants the option to redesign his job, or that he will retrain for another role. His employer could also recommend this if they see a way for his strengths and skills to fit their needs in another area. Job redesign involves identifying the way that Carlos can best serve the needs of his organization, taking into account his changing capabilities, needs, and interests.

His strengths from 10 years ago may be different than now. For instance, perhaps his arthritis has started to interfere with his work in the past few years, but he knows his job better than anyone else in his department. He may be well-suited for a training or mentoring role, rather than directly performing the work he used to do that required significant use of his hands.

Retraining for another job would involve Carlos learning new techniques and approaches to help him prepare for a different role or for his redesigned role. For instance, if Carlos now has a job redesigned to allow him to share his expertise with newer workers, he may need retraining to help him with communication skills and teaching methods, if these are areas that are new to him. Community and government-funded programs can support Carlos and his workplace with offering these options.

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