Encourage Baby Boomers to Keep Working

By July 30, 2007General

The “skills gap” really worries manufacturers. A shortage of skilled employees pretty soon hits the bottom line, precluding expansion or the ability to even serve customers.

When business and government and educators talk about the problem, they usually focus on the younger generation as the best place to expend effort. The Dream It! Do It! campaign, for example, concentrates on higher schoolers up to adults in their mid-20s.

All well and good, but don’t forget the Baby Boomers, says Sandra Westlund-Deenihan, president of Quality Float Works in Schaumburg, Ill, and an NAM board member. Just because that generation is aging out of the workforce doesn’t mean that its members should simply be ignored. Their skills, experience and desire to keep working should be encouraged even as the Boomers enter retirement.

And Sandy has some suggestions to make it so. From The Business Ledger:

I believe that our leaders in Washington have a role to play in this. Some employers may have questions regarding liability, 401(k) and other matters if we adopt such a program. I must admit I don’t have those answers. However, I believe that Congress can take a proactive approach in developing some guidelines for employers so we know the “rules of the game.”

Furthermore, I believe incentives for employers to hire baby boomers and educational materials about the assets this generation provides could create a tremendous boost for us in this process. The program must offer clear benefits for employers who will get access to trained workers and clear benefits to individuals who are interested in pursuing post-retirement careers.

A good discussion of the value of a generation — and of its individuals — who should have the option of enjoying both worlds, work AND retirement.

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