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“Retirement is for sissies” reads the tagline on former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new movie. In the “Governator’s” latest go-round as an action hero—“The Last Stand”—he plays a long-in-the-tooth sheriff charged with stopping a drug kingpin from reaching the Mexican border.
The premise is pure Hollywood, but the message—staying on the job despite advancing in age—is quite appropriate for those making up today’s labor force. The Baby Boom generation will move entirely into the 55-and-older age group by 2020, increasing to 25.2 percent of the country’s total workforce, up from 19.5 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Whether it’s due to better health and a desire to keep working, or financial difficulties that have necessitated a longer stay on the job, more people are putting off retirement. At the same time, this segment of the population will need additional care.
Tim Driver, CEO of RetirementJobs.com, says he has a solution for both. It’s called Mature Caregivers, and Driver says the venture is positioned to improve quality care for seniors and provide career opportunities for people 50 and older. The Boston-based website operation, launched in 2005, matches 50-somethings and their elders with job openings nationwide and currently has 1 million members.
“Our goal all along has been to find work for mature workers,” Driver said in an interview. “Very often, age biases become a problem. We think this is one of the few areas where it’s just the opposite. The caregivers are close [in age] to the people they’re taking care of.”
Demographic trends certainly bear out Driver’s assessment. The health care and social assistance sector will gain the most jobs (5.6 million) during the 2010-20 timeframe, according to BLS data. In particular, two of the biggest increases in job classifications will come from home health aides (adding 706,000 jobs) and personal care aides (adding 607,000 jobs) during that period of time.
Driver expects all types of job applicants to join the Mature Caregivers network, whether they’re seeking a second career or coming out of retirement to try something new. There will be a detailed vetting process for each job candidate that includes background checks and training in a variety of care methods, including treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Successful applicants also will get lessons on cooking healthy meals for their clients, Driver says.
Mature Caregivers workers will be supported in several regions of the country by geriatric care managers who work for the network. Once formally certified for work, they will be matched with clients in their communities.
Driver admits that his organization is “flipping the stereotype” of young workers who tend to occupy home health care positions. He believes the system will provide “mature workers” with career opportunities while increasing the options for elder health care at the same time.
“Very often, and I don’t mean this as a criticism of the work, but too many people view this career as a go-nowhere job,” Driver says. “We think this can be personally rewarding for a lot of mature workers, many of [whom] have experience taking care of their own parents. We think it will attract people who traditionally have a low turnover rate in their jobs and who love being caregivers.”
For more employment information, please visit SHRM’s Labor Market and Economic Data page.
Joseph Coombs is a workplace trends and forecasting specialist at SHRM.
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