Forum addresses aging workforce - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Forum addresses aging workforce

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Posted: Wednesday, November 3, 2004 5:39 am | Updated: 5:10 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

November 3, 2004

Charlie Rice retired from his job as an elementary school teacher in 1989, but the 74-year-old Scottsdale man still works "because I enjoy it," he said.

Charlie Rice retired from his job as an elementary school teacher in 1989, but the 74-year-old Scottsdale man still works "because I enjoy it," he said.

Rice spends 20 hours a week working in Scottsdale Community College’s Senior Adult Program.

"It’s a fun job, working with seniors," he said. "And then my wife can’t give me so much to do around the house."

Like many seniors who work, Rice brings to the workplace life experience, commitment to the job, punctuality. He is part of an aging national work force expected to leave a vacuum in the next five to 15 years — and gerontology experts and senior advocates say there aren’t enough young people entering the work force to fill the gap.

The Maricopa Community College District and AARP have formed a partnership to educate local companies about the need to hire and retain older workers, and to address issues faced by older workers, including baby boomers and the World War II generation.

These issues will be addressed at a free forum and luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at Scottsdale Community College, 9000 E. Chaparral Road.

"Business and industry need to be prepared for what’s coming down the road — not only the work force aging, but the fact that there are fewer younger workers than there were several years ago," AARP Arizona director David Mitchell said.

AARP and the college district will discuss workplaces for older workers and how to offer resources. The forum will highlight the benefits of retaining older workers and training programs offered by the districts, said Rose Pfefferbaum, gerontology professor and coordinator of the district’s older worker programs.

"Largely what this partnership is about is raising awareness . . . that older workers are high-quality workers who have a strong work ethic and much experience to bring to the workplace," she said.

A recent AARP survey found that 14 percent of the U.S. work force is 55 years and older. That number is expected to increase to 19 percent by the year 2012. There are 80 million to 90 million baby boomers expected to retire in the next five to 15 years, said Vince Huffman, Senior Adult Program coordinator.

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