“More than 5 years after the official end of the Great Recession, millions of Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or continue to face uncertainty over how long they can hold on to their jobs in a volatile labor market. The labor market has been especially difficult for older job seekers who often experienced long-term unemployment, underemployment, age discrimination, and diminished retirement assets. Many older workers hope that education and skills training programs will help them remain in their jobs or return to work.
This report explores a range of issues relating to skills training and education for older workers, including the challenges older workers face when deciding whether to enroll in education and training programs, and, if so, how to choose a program and pay for it..” (p.1).
Highlights in this analytical report focus in the key components for improving education and training for older workers and include:
1) The current labor market and financial impacts facing older workers.
2) Supply and demand challenges identified as skill limitations, access to training and health issues.
3) The workforce and education training landscape in the education, employment, and non-profit community-based organizations.
4) Financing education and training through PELL grants, student loans, tax-based education benefits, and workforce training assistance.
5) Effectiveness of training and emerging trends in both education and training related to degree and certificate programs, online and distance learning, competency-based programs, credit for prior learning, and community college programs for older workers.
6) The need for employer engagement in education and training.
“Although personal fulfillment and retirement security influence older workers’ decisions about remaining in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age, the paramount motivation is the need to earn money, according to AARP’s 2013 survey. The decline of employer-provided defined benefit pensions, the impact of the Great Recession on retirement and other savings, changes in eligibility age for Social Security retirement benefits, and the cost of providing care to family members are among the most important reasons why many older individuals need to work longer than anticipated.” (p.6)
(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Major Findings & Recommendations
Based on the research findings, the authors make several recommendations:: • “While various factors influence older job seekers’ success in the labor market, many older unemployed workers lack the skills that are currently in demand” (p.1). • “Many older job seekers are not well informed about the skills they will need to obtain a job or the best and most cost-effective way to obtain them” (p.1). • “Many federal and state workforce programs are not targeted to the needs of adult and working learners” (p.1). • “Several innovations in the design and delivery of education and training programs may be helpful for older adults and working learners” (p.1). The authors make the following policy recommendations: • “Develop Better Information for Informed Choices…..Government policy makers should insist on greater transparency from training providers and require them to report on the cost, duration, completion rates, and employment and earnings outcomes” (p.2). • “Provide More Financial Assistance to Older Workers Who Need Education and Training. Congress should reform financial aid programs to better assist older workers. Reforms could include federal and state governments requiring educational institutions to improve financial aid counseling for adult learners from qualified, independent third parties. Better information could also be provided about tax-based aid benefits versus loans. Congress could modify the Pell Grant program so that funding is available for shorter-term training that would help older workers who need to ‘brush up’ or update their skills rather than enroll in a degree or credential program.” (p.2). • “Expand Support Services for Adult Learners. Older adults who participate in education and training programs need flexible and affordable options. Several strategies appear to reduce the time required to transition from education and training to jobs, including programs that combine basic education with workforce preparation or on-the-job training. It is also possible that dividing programs into smaller modules will help older workers balance education and training with other personal and family responsibilities. Though not targeted specifically for older workers, a number of community colleges and CBOs have teamed up to develop programs that integrate a broad array of supports, including childcare, transportation resources, financial aid assistance, flexible or accelerated class schedules, and peer support or learning cohorts.” (p.2). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)