Editor’s picks

Latest news from around the world on mature workers for July 2021.

  • Good management and software design can help older workers thrive with IT-based tasks

    The capacity to perform work tasks that require using organisational IT tends to decline with age. Stefan Tams finds that this happens only because of lower information processing speed. He writes that managers and software designers can help older employees be more productive by simply reducing the relevance of information processing speed for job tasks. He suggests more training for older workers and the development of application interfaces that rely less on spatial metaphors.  – London School of Economics 15 July 2021

  • We Keep Hearing About The Labor Shortage. How’s That Working Out For Women Over 40?

    As COVID-19 upended the world, work at home moved from theory to reality. Yet, crushed by the load of caregiving and new responsibilities—whom, we should ask, were the ones sewing masks at their kitchen tables to keep their friends and families safe?—many of the same women who had long been advocating for telework and more flexible schedules found themselves left behind by an ecosystem that consistently devalues their contributions.  Ms Magazine 20 July 2021

  • The ‘Early’ Retirement Wave Isn’t Exactly That (USA)

    Labor-force participation has fallen further among Americans 55 and older since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic than among so-called “prime-age” workers ages 25 through 54. Older workers’ participation rate has also shown little sign of recovery as the pandemic has eased, in contrast to the pattern among younger workers.

    Right now, though, there are more job openings than at any time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking them in 2006. Yet older workers’ labor-force participation rate isn’t rising. This persistent decline has already gotten lots of attention. Explanations offered have included lingering fear of a disease that is most dangerous for older people, changed priorities in light of the events of the past year-plus, retirement accounts flush with investment gains and age discrimination in the job market.  Bloomberg 20 July 2021

  • New Programs Help Older Adults Train for Jobs in Manufacturing (USA)

    Salt shaker–sized boxes filled with colored plastic pellets glide down a track that bristles with motors, sensors and barcode readers until robotic arms lift and sort them in response to directions entered on a touch-screen keypad.

    It’s the modern-day version of the noisy, hot and often backbreaking factory assembly line, but this facsimile is in a spotless industrial robotics lab at Quinsigamond Community College, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

    And the college, as part of a collaboration with AARP that is also being piloted in Connecticut and Florida, hopes that it will soon be buzzing with people age 50 and older who want to change careers or return to the workforce.

    The idea is to help older workers and retirees find new jobs at high wages while filling a huge labor shortage in advanced manufacturing.  AARP 19 July 2021

  • Number of unemployed women over 65 triples in a year, research finds (UK)

    The number of unemployed women over the age of 65 has nearly tripled during the last year, analysis of official data has found.

    Analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by jobs site Rest Less found that unemployment among this demographic increased by 193 per cent, reaching a record 21,000 in the period March to May 2021 (3.8 per cent), compared to 7,200 (1.2 per cent) in the same period last year.

    This was also the first time since 2016 the unemployment rate for women in this age group was higher than for men. In the period March to May 2021, 2.3 per cent of men aged 65 and over were unemployed.  People Management 19 July 2021

  • More older women are unemployed than men for first time since 2016 (UK)

    There has been a rise in the number of women aged 65 and over who are unemployed during the pandemic, a new report has found. Rest Less, the company that offers professional advice to those aged 50 and over, found that the number of jobless women aged 65 and over has increased from 7,200 to 21,000 in the past year. This means that for the first time since 2016, more older women than older men are unemployed. The research also found that fewer women in this age bracket were actively looking for work than in previous years. Rest Less added that its analysis of official labour market data also found that unemployment levels for those aged 65 had overall increased by 53 per cent in the last year, which is a larger percentage increase than any other age group.  The Independent 19 July 2021

  • Taiwan’s falling birthrate ‘threatens its economic security’

    The National Development Council, Taiwan’s national policy-planning agency, forecasts that Taiwan will become “superaged” in 2025, with more than 20% of its population over 65 years old, rising to 30% in 2040. Meanwhile, the population will plummet to less than 20 million in 2052, with births falling to less than 100,000 in 2054.  Nikkei Asia 18 July 2021

  • Employers face legal action for discriminating against middle-aged workers (UK)

    Britain’s equality watchdog is threatening legal action against companies that discriminate against middle-aged workers, warning that staff should not be “cast aside on scrap heaps” if they are unable to keep pace with new technology.  The Telegraph 17 July 2021

  • Number of older Australians with HELP debt doubles in five years

    The number of Australians aged 60 or above with an outstanding HELP debt has doubled in five years, with experts saying more people will die with unpaid student loans.

    The size of the HELP debt carried by the oldest groups of Australians stands at more than $1.3 billion, up from $576 million in 2014. At the same time, the number of debtors aged over 60 grew from 56,000 to more than 100,000 in 2019-20.  The Sydney Morning Herald 17 July 2021

  • Older workers are missing from tech. That’s a big problem for everyone

    Reskilling people over 50 to work in technology could deliver an additional 119,000 IT specialists to the UK workforce and provide “a significant step” in addressing the digital skills gap, a new study has found. ZDNet 14 July 2021

  • Why are only half of Australians aged 65 enjoying retirement?

    You couldn’t pay Rob Cameron enough to retire. The Sydney stockbroker did not even contemplate retiring when he turned 65. He is now 71 and has no plans of hanging up his suit any time soon.  The Sydney Morning Herald 13 July 2021

  • What we know about how Covid-19 affected older workers and employment (USA)

    The Covid-19 pandemic has not been a crisis for older workers the way the Great Recession was. However, there are difficulties these employees are facing, particularly long-term unemployment and fears of age discrimination. Here’s what we know about this age cohort and work during Covid-19.  – CNBC 13 July 2021

  • How bad is ageism in the Philippines? Survey says 1 in 2 women refuse to say age

    For a nation that puts a high respect for the elderly, ageism is still prevalent in the Philippines as shown in a revealing new survey conducted by Pond’s among their Instagram followers. Age is still being considered a factor when hiring for some jobs. People are still expected to be in a socially-acceptable place in their lives once they hit a certain age. While both males and females are affected by ageism, this has become an extra sensitive issue for women. From the survey, they found that one in two women refuse to reveal their age whenever someone asks them how old they are while two out of three have felt judged because of their age.  Rappler 13 July 2021

  • Employers should be proactive to guard against discrimination claims arising from the menopause (UK)

    Women over 50 are the fastest growing sector of the workforce and most will go through the menopause during their working life. It can be a difficult and sensitive area for employers with a recent case reminding us that there is a potential for symptoms to meet the statutory definition of disability under the Equality Act.

    Until around three years ago there was no case law in relation to the menopause as a sex discrimination or age discrimination issue but then in 2018 a Scottish employment tribunal judge told Mandy Davies, 45, that her condition was a “disability” and ruled bosses discriminated against her because of it.  HR Director 6 July 2021

  • Fewer working-age people may slow economy. Will it lift pay?

    As America’s job market rebounds this summer and the need for workers intensifies, employers won’t likely have a chance to relax anytime soon. Worker shortages will likely persist for years after the fast-reopening economy shakes off its growing pains.

    Consider that the number of working age people did something last year it had never done in the nation’s history: It shrank. Estimates from the Census Bureau showed that the U.S. population ages 16 through 64 fell 0.1% in 2020 — a scant drop but the first decline of any kind after decades of steady increases. It reflected a sharp fall in immigration, the retirements of the vast baby boom generation and a slowing birth rate. The size of the 16-64 age group was also diminished last year by thousands of deaths from the coronavirus.  21WFMJ 3 July 2021

  • Menopause: Speaking up to end the stigma

    Are women’s career prospects negatively affected by a lack of workplace understanding about the menopause?  – BBC News Northern Ireland 3 July 2021

  • China population: workforce to drop by 35 million over next five years as demographic pressure grows

    With more than 40 million new retirees over the next five years, China’s workforce will see a net decline of 35 million, the government says. Beijing plans to meet the challenge by expanding private annuity schemes, postponing the retirement age and creating more jobs.  South China Morning Post 1 July 2021

  • Do Men Who Work Longer Live Longer? Evidence from the Netherlands

    The brief’s key findings are:

    • Working longer is a powerful way to improve retirement security, and some suggest it also improves health.
    • But does working longer improve health or does good health lead to working longer?
    • A temporary tax policy change in the Netherlands that encouraged some older workers to stay in the labor force longer provides a natural experiment.
    • The experiment confirms that working longer causes better health – specifically longer life expectancy.
    • Men ages 62-65 who worked longer due to the policy change saw a two-month increase in life expectancy during their late 60s.
    • This improvement could be more substantial if the impact is longer lasting.  – Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
  • Older workers are a secret weapon against cyber attacks

    In May, a ransomware attack invalidated the Colonial Pipeline, which transports 45% of the oil consumed on the east coast of the United States. Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Brant said at a Senate hearing that he was confused when asked if his workforce could manually operate the pipeline. But many who once manually manipulated the pipeline, he added, “they retired or they left.” “Fortunately, we still have the last bit of that generation.”

    The value of older workers with in-depth operational knowledge was demonstrated two years ago by Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian metal and power company. Like the Colonial Pipeline, Norsk Hydro received a ransom request, but instead of shutting it down, a group of veteran workers switched to manual operation and removed the company from the attacker’s claws. California News Times July 2021