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  The Herman Trend Alert

April 6, 2005

More Employers Will Seek Older Workers

As the labor market continues to tighten, employers will intensify their competitive search for qualified workers. They will seek competent, experienced, dependable people with a strong work ethic and proven ability to take care of business. Employers will be eager to hire skilled workers who understand the true meaning of customer service, who can communicate well with others, and who can draw on their experience to solve problems and make progress. Workers who can take initiative, follow through, and coach others will be in high demand.

Older workers meet these qualifications…and more. Employers prefer seniors’ ability to initiate sales and demonstrate dependability, their varied work experience, a higher capacity to work with mature clientele, and an old-fashioned work ethic. They describe appreciation for punctuality, positive attitudes, commitment to quality, lower absenteeism, and less likelihood to change jobs. [We recognize the contribution of Helen Foster, author of a white paper entitled “Tapping the Mature Workforce.”]

Some older workers have retired by choice, some have been laid off or “put out to pasture”. Incredibly, some people in management still believe that workers who have reached some age (you pick the number) have less value and can be inexpensively replaced by younger, more energetic workers…with considerably less experience. These managers overlook the values, maturity, wisdom, skills, and commitment to quality that older workers bring to them.

Quoting Elaine Chao, US Secretary of Labor, “Nowhere is the case stronger for tapping the strengths of older workers than with employers facing the skills gap. Everywhere I go, employers tell me they are having difficulty finding workers with the right skill sets for the jobs they have to offer.” Since January 2001, the biggest job growth has been among those 55 and older, with 3.2 million new workers from that group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Older workers can fill employers’ needs and will be in high demand during the balance of this decade…and beyond.

We have seen an increase in attention to the value older workers in the United States, but the same phenomenon is occurring in other countries around the world.

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