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Improving Education and Training for Older Workers Kathy Krepcio Executive Director John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Edward J. Bloustein.

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Presentation on theme: "Improving Education and Training for Older Workers Kathy Krepcio Executive Director John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Edward J. Bloustein."— Presentation transcript:

1 Improving Education and Training for Older Workers Kathy Krepcio Executive Director John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy Rutgers University

2 2 The Great Recession’s Impact on Older Workers The Great Recession left millions of Americans unemployed, underemployed and fearful about their future ability to remain working full time Many workers, including workers ager 45 and older, hope that further education and training will help them remain in their jobs or return to work. What have been older job seeker’s experiences in the labor market? What has been their education and training experiences and challenges? How do they get information about education and training that is right for them? How do they obtain and finance education and training? What are the barriers and opportunities? What types of educational strategies are showing promises in being responsive to adult learners? What actions can be taken to improve employment prospects of older workers?

3 3 Labor Market Experiences The current labor market is challenging for all workers, but particular difficult for today’s older workers who comprise 19 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force (about 30 million workers). No group of unemployed Americans has encountered greater difficulties than older workers, including extended joblessness, substantial underemployment, age discrimination and diminished assets set aside for retirement Unemployment: While older workers are less likely to be unemployed than younger workers, their odds of obtaining a new job if they lose them are lower. Older workers are more likely to be among the long-term unemployed or to withdraw from the labor market altogether Underemployment: If older workers manage to find employment after a spell of unemployment, they typically experience sharper declines in income than younger workers Diminishing labor market attachment: Older workers are more likely than younger workers to drop out of the labor force altogether following a job loss or be underemployed if they return to work (working part time when they want to work full time).

4 4 Labor Market Experiences Dwindling assets and savings: Older workers suffered significant and lingering impacts on their assets and financial security – many using their savings to cope with the impact of the recession, claiming retirement benefits early, experiencing declining home values, and carrying higher debt in their older years Anxiety about the labor market: According to an AARP survey, many older workers are anxious about the job market, and have little confidence in their ability to find a job similar to their last one without having to move or take a cut in pay. Many believe age discrimination in hiring is widespread. Want and Need to Work: According to an AARP survey, many older Americans plan to work during retirement, including part time work, with many citing the ‘need for money’ as a critical reason. “While older adults as a group hold a greater share of household net worth than younger adults, substantial and irrecoverable wealth loss as a result of the recession are at an acute stage for households with no capacity to work or without the time to recoup their losses” (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2013)

5 5 Key Demand and Supply Side Challenges Demand Side: Employer reluctance to hire based on the assumption that they will take too long to train Employer perceptions that older workers are less productive and less flexible than younger workers Employer concern that older workers are more expensive, will be uncomfortable reported to younger supervisors, and/or will retire soon after starting a job While there is evidence that these concerns are exaggerated, many employers hold these views.

6 6 Key Demand and Supply Side Challenges Supply Side: Educational barriers to reemployment including time and expense of education and (re) skill training, especially among older adults with less formal education after high school or less job relevant skills Employer demand for more advanced computer and technology-based skills, especially among workers from declining industries such as manufacturing Limited basic skills and literacy among older adults is more significant than for younger workers, especially given the time needed to gain these skills Challenges regarding access, affordability and the time necessary to acquire needed skills –Older workers underserved by the public (WIOA) workforce system –Older workers less likely to receive on-the-job training from employers –Older workers may forego training for a variety of reasons (fear of failure, feel they can’t keep up with the material, fear of going back to school, uncertainty about ‘starting over’, and lack of perceived return on investment in training vis a vis wages and ability to get a job –Time spent in training may interfere or conflict with the desire/need to get a job and be available for work Poor health or working limited health conditions limit employment options for older workers

7 7 The US Workforce Education & Training Landscape: Understanding and Navigating a Complex Marketplace Skills training and further education may not be the sole remedy for all unemployed and underemployed older workers, but getting a job or a better job in today’s labor market often requires upgrading skills Older workers with limited resources and an urgent need to earn a living may not (or not be able to) pursue a 2- or 4-year degree – they are more likely to desire a less time-consuming program that will help them return to work quickly Adults seeking education and skills training face a daunting marketplace of providers that make up the US postsecondary education and training environment –Public and private colleges and universities (2- and 4-year non profit institutions of higher education) –Trade and proprietary schools (for profit, non-degree bearing, occupationally focused) –Private employers, employer association & labor union sponsored training –Nonprofit community based organizations that offer training

8 8 Financing Education and Training: How to Pay for It There is a wide range of federal and state programs to help pay for education and training; however with the exception of one very small public workforce program (SCSEP), none of the financial aid or other resources are reserved exclusively for adults Federal Student Aid (Title IV of the Higher Education Opportunity Act) –Pell Grants –Student Loans Federal Tax Based Education Benefits (credits, deductions, savings accounts) Federal (Public) Workforce Training Assistance –SCSEP, TAA, WIOA (for adults and dislocated workers) –TANF, SNAP E&T, Vocational Rehabilitation (for disadvantaged populations)

9 The Known Effectiveness of Training Programs: The Value to Older Workers 9 The benefits of training for older workers depends on a number of circumstances: How long the individual remains in the workforce The types of courses/training completed The industry sector Whether the individual is transitioning from one industry/career to another The strength of the local economy/available jobs The quality and affordability of the education and training available/offered Research examining public workforce funded programs is limited, and the results are mixed and contradictory. The payoff of training for older workers depends largely on individual circumstances and factors that need to be weighed by the individual. High-quality, neutral professional advice is vital to help adults make well-informed decisions in a complex marketplace

10 Emerging Trends in Education & Training Programs to Help Older Adults Over the past decade a variety of strategies have been deployed and are being tested to help older adults and ‘working learners’ acquire education and training credentials. Strategies include: Shorter duration (bachelors, masters) programs and degree attainment, or ‘stackable’ approaches that break programs into shorter durations Competency based education programs Credit for Prior Learning Initiatives Postsecondary occupational and professional certificates (standards set by educational providers) Industry-based certificates (standards set by employers) Work-based learning including on-the-job training and apprenticeships E-learning, Online learning, Distance Learning and Massive Open Online Courses What do they share? Intent is to increase access, affordability, and attainment of postsecondary education degrees or certificates for adult learners. Customized skill attainment and contextualized learning tailored to the adult student. Designed to save time and money. 10

11 Better access to information about options and a return on investment from education and training from knowledgeable, impartial advisors both in-person and online (unbiased information/consumer protection) More financial tools and assistance for adult learners, and improved financial aid counseling for adults from qualified, independent third party counselors (resources and tools that reflect how adults buy and consume education/consumer protection) Complementary social services and supports to help adults achieve their education and training goals integrated into education and training programs and institutions (necessary resources that can help adults stay in and finish school such as child/elder care, transportation, flexible class schedules, learning cohorts, etc) 11 What Can Help? Policy Recommendations

12 Questions? 12

13 13 Contact Information Kathy Krepcio Executive Director John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Rutgers University


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