Today, a confluence of factors is prompting America to change the way it thinks about age and work. The economic downturn, shifting perceptions of retirement, increased workplace flexibility, and the aging of the "baby boom" generation are all contributing to people working longer. Many of these capable, experienced mature workers develop disabilities as they age, or existing disabilities may become more significant. To retain the talents of these valuable, skilled workers, employers can implement a variety of workplace practices, many of which benefit all workers and make good business sense. The following resources provide more information about the topic of older workers:
Reports from ODEP's NTAR Leadership Center
National Technical Assistance and Research Center to Promote Leadership for Increasing the Employment and Economic Independence of Adults with Disabilities (NTAR Leadership Center) issued these reports that examine the disability implications of an aging workforce.
Community College Briefs
Postsecondary education is increasingly important for older job seekers' reemployment. Yet, they may face potential challenges in accessing and completing education and training due to their greater likelihood of having acquired age-related disabilities. The following three briefs provide new research data and findings on older students and dislocated workers researched by the NTAR Leadership Center. Existing data, such as that from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, does not track the numbers of dislocated workers enrolled at community colleges; and nearly three-quarters of community colleges reported very few students with disabilities enrolled (less than three percent of their student population). Moreover, among older students, unidentified disabilities are not documented, which provides challenges for community colleges to document their statistics on older students with disabilities.
- Community College Practices that Serve Older Dislocated Workers (PDF) — This brief highlights strategies and findings at five community colleges serving high numbers of dislocated workers and examines how those practices meet the needs of older workers, some of whom may be aging with or into disabilities.
- How Are Community Colleges Serving the Needs of Older Students with Disabilities? (PDF) — To examine the issues related to older students with disabilities, this brief documents the research conducted to learn how colleges—in particular, community colleges—can better support the education and training needs of these students.
- Working for Adults: State Policies and Community College Practices to Better Serve Adult Learners at Community Colleges During the Great Recession and Beyond (PDF) — This report synthesizes knowledge about how community colleges serve adults. The first section provides background and context on adults at community colleges, while the second section details the methodology used in this research. Other sections describe the findings on the enrollment of adults at community colleges, recent initiatives that have sought to support adults at community colleges, the state policy and college practices related to adults' enrollment, and research on student outcomes and the implications for what is known about state policy and college practice. The final section highlights recommendations for policymakers and practitioners interested in serving adults at community colleges, including those with disabilities.
ODEP and other DOL agency resources
- Recruitment and Retention of Older Workers: Application to People with Disabilities — Report based on above study that identifies strategies that have benefit for both older workers and workers with disabilities.
- Return to Work Toolkit — Information to help employers and employees understand the return-to-work process and resources to assist in getting employees back on the job quickly and smoothly.
- Return to Work Programs — A resource from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) that shows the advantages of return-to-work (RTW) programs, discusses successful RTW strategies, and helps employers decide which RTW strategies will work in their organizations.
- Job Accommodation Network guidance on accommodations for employees who are aging.
- Report of the Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce (PDF) — Findings of a task force convened by DOL's Employment and Training Administration and on which ODEP served. Two additional resources resulting from this taskforce include:
- Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) — ETA-funded community service and work-based program that provides subsidized training for low-income persons 55 or older who are unemployed and have poor employment prospects.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1975
- Report on Current Strategies To Employ and Retaining Older Workers (PDF)
- DOL Employment & Training Administration's Older Worker Initiative — The aging and retirement of the baby boom generation will have impacts on many aspects of our society, including possible labor and skill shortages. This initiative looks at ways to encourage older employees to continue working.
- Retaining Older Workers — Information from the Employer Assistance & Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) on strategies to retain the talents of older workers, who may develop disabilities as they age, or attracting new, older workers.
- Making Work More Flexible: Opportunities and Evidence (PDF) — This report considers the availability, utilization, and demand for workplace flexibility, with a particular emphasis on older workers. Although many aspects of flexibility can benefit workers of any age, the desire of some older workers to phase into retirement introduces some special considerations.
- Phased Retirement and Flexible Retirement Arrangements: Strategies for Retaining Skilled Workers (PDF) — Implementing appealing work arrangements that attract and retain workers 50+ may become increasingly important in an organization's bid to survive in today's marketplace. Phased retirement, which allows the employee to reduce work time in his or her current job, is regarded as one strategy to encourage hard-to-replace, experienced workers to postpone leaving the labor force. This report discusses the factors influencing the business need for phased retirement, how to create a phased retirement program, how to market a phased retirement program to employees, challenges in implementing phased retirement, proposed regulatory solutions, and cutting-edge employee programs.
- Protecting Family Caregivers from Employment Discrimination (AARP Public Policy Institute) (PDF) — This report is the first in a series of AARP Public Policy Institute papers on issues of eldercare and the workplace. It highlights the realities of changing demographics and issues affecting working caregivers of older adults. It defines family responsibilities discrimination (FRD), explains why FRD is a policy matter, and describes the types of workplace discrimination encountered by working caregivers.
- Highlights of a GAO Forum: Engaging and Retaining Older Workers (PDF)
- Older Workers: Some Best Practices and Strategies for Engaging and Retaining Older Workers (PDF)
- Staying Ahead of the Curve: The AARP Work and Career Study — Exploration of the perspectives and work-related needs of older workers today and tomorrow.
- Older Workers Are Staying Longer in the Workforce — Blog post from AARP describing how the labor force participation rate has been rising for older adults for the past decade or longer.
- Older Workers: An exploration of the Benefits, Barriers, and Adaptations for Older People in the Workforce — A study from the National Institutes of Health which looks at the experiences and perceptions of paid workers aged 60 years and older. The study explains why older people continue to work and the barriers and facilitators they encounter.