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HELP WANTED: Older Workers April 24, 2006

Posted by Tom in Workforce.

The crunch of retiring baby boomers and an insufficient population in succeeding generations is starting to result in new public policies.

The "Mature Worker Initiative" is an effort to stem a shrinking workforce caused by retirement of many Baby Boomers.

In a news conference at the state Capitol, Gov. Mike Huckabee said the program recognizes the value of older, experienced workers who otherwise may soon be retiring.

Huckabee cited U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data that shows 43 percent of the existing workforce will reach retirement eligibility by 2012. The report said younger generations are 15 percent smaller than their Baby Boom predecessors.

Many younger people also are not qualified as replacements, Huckabee said.

"More frightening is the fact that the people that we're losing are the most seasoned, experienced, knowledgeable people of how their particular jobs are done," he said.

As a member of the younger generation, I'm especially alarmed at the 15% size differential in generational populations. Combine that with the fact that the post-boomer generation is the most heavily incarcerated, and you have some real demographic problems to deal with.

A past remedy to population differentials and skill shortages resulting from those differentials was to boost immigration levels for skilled workers. In Richard Florida's The Flight of the Creative Class, however, it's revealed that the exact opposite is taking place; in the wake of 9/11, the United States has increasingly closed its borders to immigrants of all types…including key knowledge workers. Gulp. (A full book review will follow when I finish!)

What's the answer to this problem? In Arkansas' case, it means that baby boomers will be asked to forestall their retirements.



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