It began with WorkingNation’s stark warning about an impending employment crisis.
But the mood at our first town hall on Reskilling the Mid-Career Workforce shifted from concern to understanding to laughter as our panel of business leaders and academic experts discussed solutions to a crowd of more than 200 at the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Tuesday’s event, which began with WorkingNation’s animated short The Slope of the Curve and featured the debut of a WorkingNation mini-documentary about the New Start Career Network, was filmed for New Jersey Public Television to be aired this month.
Presented in conjunction with the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University and moderated by PBS NewsHour anchor Hari Sreenivasan, the town hall focused on the challenges of long-term unemployment due to automation or offshoring of jobs, especially for workers over the age of 45.
“Other than the death of a family member or close friend, losing a job is the worst thing that can happen to someone,” Heldrich Center Director Carl Van Horn said.
The trauma of losing a job and the added embarrassment of a long job search – fraught with tricky application processes – can have a cumulative effect on older workers, leading them to drop out of the job hunt feeling worthless and uncompetitive. This causes mental health problems, disrupt families and increases the social burden to communities who have to deal with the compounded ills.