I recently read a startling statistic: there are 3.3 million more retirees in the U.S. as of October than in January 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. That’s a 7% increase. Call it what you will—the Great Retirement, the Great Resignation, the Great Reset—it’s important that we understand what is driving this trend of older workers leaving the workforce, particularly as the country is struggling with a labor shortage.
In this conversation with Dr. Accius, we discuss some of the factors that are behind older workers dropping out of the labor market. He cites concerns about their health during the pandemic and also their fears for others’ health when they are caregivers. Another factor is many have gained a renewed sense of purpose and belonging.
“What I mean by that is the people have really taken this time to really assess exactly what do they want to do in their life? What’s given them a sense of meaning? What’s given them a sense of fulfillment and they’re making those tradeoffs. People are looking in terms of exactly what are the opportunities to really live that fuller life as they have defined for themselves. Some are taking big jumps because, if not now, then when?,” offers Dr. Accius.
Not Everyone is Staying Home
This is where the idea of reset comes in, he adds. “In some cases, people are taking on other opportunities in other sectors, either because it matched what they’ve always wanted to do with their life, or in some cases it might be better wages or better benefits or better working conditions.”
Still, the fact remains there are fewer people in the workforce and that has employers thinking about what they can do to change that dynamic and recruit and retain more older workers. “Many companies are managing five different generations. What AARP’s been doing with great organizations like yourself at WorkingNation is really elevate those solutions and to really assess what are the opportunities that cut across generations that really leverages the workplace and the workforce in a way that’s going to be mutually beneficial?,” Dr. Accius tells me.
We talk about one of the tools available through AARP that can help prepare midcareer and older workers for the opportunities ahead, AARP Skills Builder, which offers online training and certificates for in-demand skills.
“We are seeing increased automation and also increased digitalization in the marketplace. We know that there are some skills that are going to be in growing demand as companies start to move into this direction. So, it’s a combination of an assessment of the marketplace, and what we’re seeing in terms to what employers are looking for. This is a tool that’s continuing to be updated with new courses, new resources, to really be able to be a value add for individuals. I think that all of us across all life stages and ages have an opportunity to provide value. I also think that this is a tool that can provide you with some guidance on how to go about doing that,” he says.
There is so much more in the podcast, including an important conversation about health care and longevity and how you can start thinking about it, and planning for it, now.
I invite you to listen here, or find us and download the podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Episode 215: Dr. Jean Accius, SVP Thought Leadership and International Affairs, AARP
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts